A distinctive echolocation frequency led to the discovery of a new species of bat within the genus Hipposideros. Although this bat is similar to the species Hipposideros armiger, differences in acoustics, size, and DNA between these bats led to the identification of the new species. This new member of the bat community, which has been found in two locations in Vietnam, has been given the scientific name Hipposideros griffini.
The current article of the Journal of Mammalogy reports on findings from a survey of bats in Vietnam over a span of three years. Eleven of 308 bats of the Hipposideros genus that were captured and handled for study displayed differing characteristics from all known taxa of Hipposideros and represent a new species.
Captured bats were measured for features such as forearm length, ear height, nose-leaf width, tooth row length, and body mass. Tissue samples were taken for genetic analysis. Recordings were made inside a flight tent, in front of caves, and under forest canopies, identifying calls of bats when they left their roosts and when they were foraging. Researchers used software for bat call analysis that can display color sonograms and measure frequencies.
The H. griffini bat has a smaller overall body size than its close cousin, H. armiger, and variations in the skull and teeth. Differences also appeared in the mitochondrial DNA collected from these bats. The echolocation frequencies of the new species range from 76.6 to 79.2 kHz, which is higher than frequencies of several H. armiger subspecies, which range from 64.7 to 71.4 kHz. Additional evidence shows that these two species are occupying the same geographical region yet have retained their separate identities.
H. griffini is named after the late Professor Donald Redfield Griffin of Rockefeller University in New York. Griffin was a leader in and essential contributor to bat echolocation research, which was key to identifying H. griffini as a new species. The proposed common name for this bat is “Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat.”
The new species was found at Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam and in Chu Mom Ray National Park, situated on the mainland more than 600 miles (1,000 km) to the south. H. griffini joins about 70 other species within the genus Hipposideros.
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“A new species of Hipposideros (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) from Vietnam,” Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 93, No. 1, February 2012. www.asmjournals.org/doi/full/10.1644/11-MAMM-A-073.1