Cochlea development shapes bat sensory system evolution
Sensory organs must develop alongside the skull within which they are largely encased, and this relationship can manifest as the skull constraining the organs, organs constraining the skull, or organs constraining one another in relative size. How this interplay between sensory organs and the developing skull plays out during the evolution of sensory diversity; however, remains unknown. Here, we examine the developmental sequence of the cochlea, the organ responsible for hearing and echolocation, in species with distinct diet and echolocation types within the ecologically diverse bat super-family Nocti- lionoidea. We found the size and shape of the cochlea largely correlates with skull size, with exceptions of Pteronotus parnellii, whose high duty cycle echo- location (nearly constant emission of sound pulses during their echolocation process allowing for detailed information gathering, also called constant fre- quency echolocation) corresponds to a larger cochlear and basal turn, and Monophyllus redmani, a small-bodied nectarivorous bat, for which interactions with other sensory organs restrict cochlea size. Our findings support the exis- tence of developmental constraints, suggesting that both developmental and anatomical factors may act synergistically during the development of sensory systems in noctilionoid bats.