A team of scientists, led by the American Museum of Natural History and Bat Conservation International, recently discovered a new species of what they described as striking orange and black bat in a mountain range located in West Africa.
According to Phys.org, one species which the research team is expecting to be possibly critically endangered is highlighting the essentiality of "sub-Saharan 'sky islands' to bat diversity."
The researchers described the species in their study published in the American Museum Novitates journal.
According to Bat Conservation International, Winifred Frick, also an associate research professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, "In an age of extinction, a discovery like this" provides a glimpse of hope.
The bat they discovered, she continued, is a "spectacular animal," with bright-orange fur, and since it was so unique, it led them to "realize it was not described before.
"Discovery of a new mammal is rare, said Frick adding, it has been her dream "since I was a child."
Discovery of the Bat
In 2018, Frick, together with her colleagues at Bat Conservation International and the University of Maroua in Cameron, was in Nimba Mountains in Guinea doing field surveys specifically in natural caves and mining tunnels called "adits" that were built in the 1970s and 1980s. The said sites were said to have been colonized by bats since the said decades.
In alliance with Société des Mines de Fer de Guinée or SMFG, a local mining company, the researchers are trying to understand which bat species use which adits and what specific times of the year.
Of specific interest is the Hipposideros lamottei, Lamotte's roundleaf bat, which the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN listed as "critically endangered" and has just ever been recorded in the Nimba Mountains.
Much of the sad bat's known population lives in the adits, which are said to be in "different states of collapse" and will vanish in time.
While the research team was surveying for this bat, they discovered something peculiar: a bat that appeared "nothing like Lamotte's roundleaf bat" and did not match any other species' description that they knew took place in the said site.
Later that evening, the scientists called on bat expert Nancy Simmons, also an American Museum of Natural History curator and the Museum's Department of Mammalogy chair, for help.
Simmons said, as soon as she looked at the peculiar discovery, she agreed "that it was something new. This curator, also the lead author of the paper and a member of the Bat Conservation International Board added, then, started "the long path of documentation and retrieval of all data needed" to show that it is indeed, distinctive from any other known species.
By means of morphological, morphometric, echolocation and genetic data, which included comparative data from retrievals at the Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the British Museum, the team of scientists described their new discovery of the species, naming it "Myotis nimbaensis," derived from "Nimba," in recognition of the mountain range where it was discovered.
Furthermore, the Nimba Mountains, a chain of the so-called "African sky islands" have peaks that rise from 1,600 to 1750 meters above sea level, is described to have been surrounded by extremely different lowland habitats. As such, they are considered "home to exceptional biodiversity," which includes bats.
Bat Conversation International's director of endangered species interventions Jon Flanders said, on top of the Lamotte's roundleaf bat, "it is possible Myotis nimbaensis could be the second bat species" discovered, specifically only in this mountain range.
The study is part of a currently being conducted initiative essential in helping Nimba Mountain survive. However, Bat Conservation International and MFG have already begun to work together to develop new tunnels, reinforced to last for hundreds of years, and in habitat, away from the mining project, for the Lamotte's roundleaf bat.
Lastly, even though little is known yet on the population and Myotis nimbleness, initiatives like this one are likely to be helpful, too.
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