Striped like a badger: New genus of bat identified in South Sudan

Apr 09, 2013
This image show the beautiful bat species Niumbaha superba. Credit: DeeAnn Reeder, Bucknell University

Researchers have identified a new genus of bat after discovering a rare specimen in South Sudan. With wildlife personnel under the South Sudanese Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, Bucknell Associate Professor of Biology DeeAnn Reeder and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) Programme Officer Adrian Garside were leading a team conducting field research and pursuing conservation efforts when Reeder spotted the animal in Bangangai Game Reserve.

"My attention was immediately drawn to the bat's strikingly beautiful and distinct pattern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extraordinary animal, one that I had never seen before," recalled Reeder. "I knew the second I saw it that it was the find of a lifetime."

After returning to the United States, Reeder determined the bat was the same as one originally captured in nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1939 and named Glauconycteris superba, but she and colleagues did not believe that it fit with other in the Glauconycteris.

"After careful analysis, it is clear that it doesn't belong in the genus that it's in right now," Reeder said. "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."

In the paper, "A new genus for a rare African vespertilionid bat: insights from South Sudan" just published by the journal ZooKeys, Reeder, along with co-authors from the Smithsonian Institution and the Islamic University in Uganda, placed this bat into a new genus - Niumbaha. The word means "rare" or "unusual" in Zande, the language of the Azande people in Western Equatoria State, where the bat was captured. The bat is just the fifth specimen of its kind ever collected, and the first in South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011.

"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. South Sudan is a country with much to offer and much to protect," said Matt Rice, FFI's South Sudan country director. FFI is using its extensive experience of working in conflict and post-conflict countries to assist the South Sudanese government as it re-establishes the country's wildlife conservation sector and is also helping to rehabilitate selected protected areas through training and development of park staff and wildlife service personnel, road and infrastructure development, equipment provision, and supporting research work.

The team's research in South Sudan was made possible by a $100,000 grant that Reeder received from the Woodtiger Fund. The private research foundation recently awarded Reeder another $100,000 dollar grant to continue her research this May and to support FFI's conservation programs.

"Our discovery of this new genus of bat is an indicator of how diverse the area is and how much work remains," Reeder added. "Understanding and conserving biodiversity is critical in many ways. Knowing what species are present in an area allows for better management. When species are lost, ecosystem-level changes ensue. I'm convinced this area is one in which we need to continue to work."

Explore further: Elephants are sensitive and very social, but there is no evidence they cry

More information: Reeder DM, Helgen KM, Vodzak ME, Lunde DP, Ejotre I (2013) A new genus for a rare African vespertilionid bat: insights from South Sudan. ZooKeys 285: 89. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.285.4892

Related Stories

Deadly bat disease is spreading west

Jun 22, 2010

A disease killing more than 1 million with a mortality rate close to 100 percent continues to sweep across the country. First detected in New York in 2006, it is now found in 14 states in the East and South, leaving starvation ...

New species of bat found in Vietnam

Feb 21, 2012

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, ...

Three new bat species discovered in Indochina

Sep 05, 2011

Three new bat species have been discovered after an international team of scientists from the Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) embarked on a study in southern Indochina.

A battle of the vampires, 20 million years ago?

Feb 02, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- They are tiny, ugly, disease-carrying little blood-suckers that most people have never seen or heard of, but a new discovery in a one-of-a-kind fossil shows that “bat flies” have ...

Recommended for you

Bats use polarized light to navigate

56 minutes ago

Scientists have discovered that greater mouse-eared bats use polarisation patterns in the sky to navigate – the first mammal that's known to do this.

How fussy pandas maintain a balanced bamboo diet

4 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Pandas are famously fussy eaters, but new research suggests there is method to their madness, with the animals switching between different species and parts of bamboo plants to maintain a balanced ...

New planthopper species found in southern Spain

10 hours ago

Not much is known about the the genus of planthopper known as Conosimus, which now includes six species after a new one was recently discovered in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula in the Spanish ...

How rockstars and peacocks attract the ladies

Jul 21, 2014

What is it that makes rockstars so attractive to the opposite sex? Turns out Charles Darwin had it pegged hundreds of years ago – and it has a lot to do with peacocks.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

geokstr
1.5 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2013
Well then they should call it a batger.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2013
..or perhaps a batanda.
KBK
1 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2013
Well then they should call it a batger.


We don't need no stinking batgers!