Thursday, 11 April 2013

New Genus of Bat Discovered: Fluffy, Badger-Colored Mammal Found in Sudan

First Posted: Apr 09, 2013 01:21 PM EDT

A new genus of bat has been discovered in South Sudan. The fluffy, black and white striped mammal was spotted in the Bangangai Game Reserve during a mission to conduct field research and improve conservation efforts.

At first, researchers believed that the bat was actually the same as one originally captured in the nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1939. Named Glauconycteris superba, this bat also possesses the intricate black and white markings that the new one does. Yet after studying the new specimen closely, researchers kept finding more and more dissimilarities.

"After careful analysis, it is clear that it doesn't belong in the genus that it's in right now," said DeeAnn Reeder, one of the researchers who first discovered the new bat, in a news release. "Its cranial characters, its wing characters, its size, the ears--literally everything you look at doesn't fit. It's so unique that we need to create a new genus."

That's just what they did. The researchers proposed that the new bat should be put into the genus Niumbaha, which means "rare" or "unusual" in Zande, the language of the Azande people who live near where the bat was first captured.

"To me, this discovery is significant because it highlights the biological importance of South Sudan and hints that this new nation has many natural wonders yet to be discovered," said Matt Rice, FFI's South Sudan country director, in a news release. "South Sudan is a country with much to offer and much to protect."

Bats are currently experiencing a huge decline in numbers. In the U.S.white-nose syndrome has decimated bat populations. The fungus-associated disease causes hibernating bats to fly outside during the winter when there are no insects available. Eventually, the bats starve to death. A similar fungus has also been discovered in Europe, which could mean that issue could eventually impact bats globally.

This latest finding, though, reveals that there are still more bats to be discovered. The details of the new bat are published in the journal ZooKeys.

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