New Zealand’s endangered lesser short-tailed bat descended from 20-million-year-old Australian relatives, new research has found. Scientists had long thought that the bat evolved its walking preference independently. Since the bat’s native habitat lacks predators researchers reasoned that – much like flightless birds on isolated islands – the bat had adapted to its safer surroundings in part by walking. But the discovery of fossils of a now extinct walking bat in northwestern Queensland, Australia, suggests otherwise. “We were amazed to find they were virtually identical to the bats in New Zealand today,” said study leader Sue Hand, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Of the 1100 known present-day bat species, the lesser short-tailed bat and the American common vampire bat are the only two known to walk on the ground.