Rare 'Leaf Nosed' Bat Species Discovered in Vietnam

 
on February 27 2012 1:48 AM

Scientists have discovered a new species of bat at Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam and in Chu Mom Ray National Park.

The new study published in the in the Journal of Mammalogy mentions that although the bat was mistaken for a known species called the great leaf-nosed bat, further research confirmed that the bat belongs to a new species.

With the help of genetic studies, scientists confirmed that the species, known as Hipposideros griffini, is genetically different.

The bats belong to the family known for its distinctive noses that help bats to focus echolocation calls. The calls that return is collected by the bat's pointy ears to allow them create a full and accurate mental image of its surroundings. This sophisticated system is one reason why carnivorous bats are able to hunt so well in the dark, finding tiny insects in no time at all.

While captured, some similar body-sized bats, i.e. [the] great leaf-nosed bat, reacts very angrily. But Griffin's leaf-nosed bat seems quite gentle, National Geographic quoted project leader Vu Dinh Thong of Hanoi's Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources saying. 

It was over a period of three years that the new species was discovered in Vietnam.

The genus Hipposideros, to which the new species belongs, consists of 70 species worldwide.

To elucidate the taxonomic status of these species, the researchers conducted a series of bat surveys in different areas of Vietnam between 2006 and 2009, with particular emphasis on catching hipposiderid bats. A total of 308 hipposiderid bats were reportedly captured during the surveys.

Though the species is morphologically similar to taxa in the Hipposideros armiger complex but they are substantially smaller. The new species, which has been found living sympatrically with H. armiger in Cat Ba National Park, is distinguished from it by size, acoustic characters, and differences in the mitochondrial DNA.

The species has been named after the late Professor Donald Redfield Griffin (1915-2003) of Rockefeller University (New York), in recognition of his initiation and essential contributions to bat echolocation research.

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