Image Credit to The Centre for the Conservation of Specialized Species


     Domain: Eukarya   
         Kingdom: Animalia
             Phylum: Chordata
                 Class: Mammalia
                     Order: Chiroptera
                         Family: Phyllostomidae
                             Genus: Desmodus
                                 Species: Desmodus rotundus

     Desmodus rotundus is a Eukarya. Eukarya refers to a group of organisms that have cells deemed "eukatyotic". Eukaryotic cells are those that posses membrane bound organelles and true nuclei. Eukaryotic cells are also capable of cell division via mitosis. 

    All members of the Kingdom Animalia are heterotrophs. Heterotrophs are those that rely directly or indirectly on others for food. Members of the Animalia kingdom are also multicellular. Desmodus rotundus is also mobile just as every animal is at some point in their life.

    Those classified as Chordata all possess a notochord at some point in their life. Chordates also possess a post anal tail in one or more stages of their life cycle. The common vampire bat has a body plan of bilateral symmetry. The body of the vampire bat, along with other chordates, also has three tissue layers and complete digestive tract.

    Synapomorphies (shared traits) for the class Mammalia include hair or fur covering the body, respiration through lungs, production of milk for their young via mammary glands and the need to maintain a constant body temperature in order to survive. To read more about the specific reproduction methods of Desmodus rotundus check out the reproduction page. Below is a picture from displaying a variety of different mammals. All the animals in this picture are within in the same class but some differ greatly from others.


     A characteristic of Chiroptera is flight. Bats, being the only mammals that have the ability to fly, compose the order chiroptera. The word chiroptera is of greek origin, chiro- meaning hand and -ptera meaning wing.
The literal meaning of this orders' name demonstrates the evolutionary differences of the development of a wing from a hand (

    Phyllostomidae is a family containing tropical and subtropical bats. Members of this family are broad winged and have a simple spear- shaped body plan. A long with a shared body shape is the presence of a nose leaf ( Also, the bats that contribute to this family prefer to live in groups that often range in size.

     The common vampire bat is the only member of this specific genus. According to the Merriam Webster Latin Dictionary, the word Desmodus breaks down into a literal meaning of "two thirds way" Des meaning two thirds and modus meaning way.

Desmodus rotundus
The full species name for the common vampire bat is Desmodus rotundus. The meaning of the Latin word rotundus is round or spherical. When combing the genus and species name Desmodus rotundus translates to "two thirds of the way round." This is more than likely in reference to the bat's unique body shape.

    In order to better understand which organisms the vampire bat is most closely related to let's take a look at where the vampire bat fits into the phylogenetic tree of life (below).


     The above phylogenetic tress shows that Eukaryotes (this includes the vampire bat) are more closely related to Archaea than they are to bacteria. Eukaryotes are those that posses membrane bound organelles and nuclei within their cells. This simple and broad tree is based on evolutionary changes in organisms. Looking at how organisms have morphologically changed over time helps to show how they could have possibly evolved into the different species they are today. As noted before the vampire bat would be found under the Animal Kingdom within the Eukarya Domain.

     This next phylogenetic tree is more specific within the animal kingdom showing which specific groups of animals the vampire bat is most closely related to. The below figure is based on the genomic organization of the mammalian TRPV1 locus.  This phylogeny  was created based on the gene organization of a specific gene that all mammals posses. The TRPV1 gene is a gene associated with thermo sensory in mammals. Studies of this gene have provided researchers with details on how animals channel their sensory systems (Racheva et al. 2011). Based on morphological data bats were thought to be more closely related to rodents. Even thought the vampire bat resembles a sort of flying rodent, molecular data, found by tracing the TRPV1 locus in mammals, proves that bats are actually more closely related to cows and horses than they are to rodents (Racheva et al. 2011).

 <Phylogenic tree adapted from Racheva et al. 2011.>

Learn more about the habitat of the common vampire bat here!