Scientists discover new bat species in West Africa

Sep 03, 2013

An international team of scientists, including biologists from, the University of York, has discovered five new species of bats in West Africa.

The team, which also included researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences and the Academy of Sciences, Charles University in the Czech Republic, discovered a wealth of unexpected diversity among Vesper bats in Senegal.

During seven expeditions to the Niokolo-Koba National Park in south-eastern Senegal, and subsequent , the scientists discovered that five species of bats looked similar to other populations in Africa, but differed significantly genetically from them.

Taxonomists are now working on describing formally these new species – Vesper bats (Vespertilionidae) are already the largest family of bats with more than 400 known species. The research is published in Frontiers in Zoology.

The researchers studied 213 vespertilionid bats from Senegal and identified ten species, five of which were significantly genetically different from their nominate species —Pipistrellus hesperidus, Nycticeinops schlieffenii, Scotoecus hirundo, Neoromicia nana and Neoromicia somalica.

One of the research team, Nancy Irwin, of the Department of Biology at York, says: "The fact that these Senegalese bats are unrelated and are different to their cousins in other parts of Africa, suggests that West Africa may have been isolated in the past and formed a refugium, where populations gradually diverged and even acquired new chromosomal configurations.

"This exciting finding confirms that West Africa may represent an underestimated bio-geographic hotspot with many more species to discover."

Explore further: Does the dangerous new Middle East coronavirus have an African origin?

More information: Koubinova, D. et al. Hidden Diversity in Senegalese Bats and Associated Findings in the Systematics of the Family Vespertilionidae, Frontiers in Zoology.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Large moths need to hear better

Aug 19, 2013

Bats orient themselves through echolocation, and they find their prey by emitting calls and then process the echoes reflected back to them from the prey. Small insects reflect small echo signals, and large ...

One of UK's rarest bats spotted in Wiltshire woods

Aug 22, 2013

During a night of bat trapping on Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Blackmoor Copse nature reserve, Phil Brown, an MSc student at the University of Bristol, identified a barbastelle bat. This is the first confirmed ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.