Saturday, March 24, 2012

New found bat has a nose only an echo locating mother could love

A brand-new species of leaf-nosed bat has been identified in Vietnam, on the basis of its genetic differences as well as its sonar frequency. The findings, reported in the Journal of Mammalogy, suggest that different bat species living in the same habitat keep to their own in part due to the echolocating sounds they emit.

The new species — Griffin's leaf-nosed bat, also known by the scientific name Hipposideros griffini — is slightly smaller than its close cousin, Hipposideros armiger, the great leaf-nosed bat. During a three-year bat survey, researchers found 11 specimens of the new species on Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam, and in Chu Mom Ray National Park on the mainland, more than 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the south.

Like its bigger cousin, Griffin's leaf-nosed bat a bizarre-looking array of leaflike facial protuberances that are thought to enhance the echolocation signals it sends out to avoid obstacles and scan for potential prey. But a computerized analysis of bat calls determined that the smaller bat emits its signals in a slightly higher frequency: 76.6 to 79.2 kHz, as opposed to the range of 64.7 to 71.4 kHz for several subspecies of the great leaf-nosed bat. The researchers said H. griffini's call is distinguishable from all other known leaf-nosed species in its habitat, which means the frequency could be used to identify the bat in future field studies.

While captured, some similar body-sized bats, i.e. great leaf-nosed bat, reacts very angrily, but Griffin's leaf-nosed bat seems quite gentle."

The research team confirmed their suspicions that the gentler, smaller, higher-pitched bat represented a different species by analyzing the bats' mitochondrial DNA. The species was named after the late Rockefeller University researcher Donald Redfield Griffin, who played a leading role in the echolocation research that helped in the identification.