A group of scientists led by the American Museum of Natural History and Bat Protection International have discovered a new species of a stunning orange and black bat in a mountain range in West Africa. This species, which researchers expect is likely to be highly endangered, underscores the importance of sub-Saharan “sky islands” for bat diversity. The species are described today in the journal American Museum beginners.
“In an era of extinction, a discovery like this offers a ray of hope,” said Winifred Frick, chief scientist at Pat Conservation International and associate research professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “It’s an amazing animal. It has that bright orange fur, and because it was so special, it led us to realize that it had never been described before. It’s rare to discover a new mammal. It has been my dream since I was a child.”
In 2018, Frick and colleagues at Bat Conservation International and Maroua University in Cameroon in the Nimba Mountains of Guinea were conducting field surveys in natural caves and mining tunnels, known as adits, that were built in the 1970s and 1980s and have since been colonized by bats. In collaboration with the local mining company, Société des Mines de Fer de Guinée (SMFG), scientists are trying to understand which bat species are used which bat species and at what time of year. Of particular interest is Lamotte’s round bat, Hipposideros lamottei, which has been listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being critically endangered and only recorded in the Nimba Mountains. Many of its known inhabitants live in habits, which are in various states of collapse and will disappear with time. While scanning this bat, the researchers found something strange – a bat that did not resemble a Lammot bat with round leaves and did not match descriptions of any other species they knew had happened in the area. Later that night, they enlisted the help of American Museum of Natural History curator Nancy Simmons, a bat expert and head of the museum’s mammalian department.
“Once I looked at it, I agreed it was something new,” said Simmons, the paper’s lead author and a member of the board of directors of Pat Conservation International. “Then he began the long path of documentation and gathering all the necessary data to prove that it was unlike any other known species.”
Through morphological, morphometric, echolocation and genetic data, including comparative data from the collections at the Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the British Museum, scientists have described the new species that they named Myotis nimbaensis (“from Nimba”) in appreciation of the mountain range in which they are found. . A series of “African Sky Islands”, the Nimba Mountains have peaks rising between 1,600-1,750 meters (about one mile) above sea level and surrounded by dramatically different lowland habitats. As such, it is home to an exceptional biodiversity, including bats.
“In addition to the round bats in Lamott, it is possible that Myotis nimbaensis is the second species of bats found only in this mountain range,” said John Flanders, Director of Endangered Species Interventions at Pat Conservation International.
This study is part of a critical ongoing effort in helping Mount Nimba bats survive. Bat Conservation International and SMFG have begun working together to build new tunnels, booster to last for centuries and in a habitat far from the mining project, of Lamott’s round bat. Although little is known yet about the population and range of Myotis nimbaensis, efforts like this will likely help it as well.
Other authors in the study include Eric Moyes Paco Fils of the University of Maroua. Jay Parker, Jamieson Suter and Senan Pampa from SMFG; Mori Dono from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests of Guinea; Mamady Kobele Keita from Guinée Ecologie; Ariadna Morales from the American Museum of Natural History and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany.
Study link: http: // digitallibrary.
About the American Museum of Natural History (AMNA)
The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869 and currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, is one of the most prominent scientific, educational and cultural institutions in the world. The museum has more than 40 permanent exhibition halls, including those at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. The museum’s nearly 200 scientists rely on a world-class research collection of more than 34 million artifacts and specimens, some dating back billions of years, and on one of the largest libraries of natural history in the world. Through the Richard Gilder Graduate School, the museum awards a doctoral degree. A degree in Comparative Biology and a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), the only stand-alone degree-granting programs of any museum in the United States. The museum’s website, digital videos and mobile apps bring its collections, exhibits, and educational programs to millions around the world. Visit amnh.org for more information.
About Bat Conservation International
Founded in 1982, Bat Conservation International has developed into a global conservation organization dedicated to ending the extinction of bats. Working together, our goal is to redefine what is possible in global conservation, by using the latest tools, technology, and training to create real and measurable impact. For more information, visit batcon.org.