New Species of Bat, Hiding in Museums for over a Century

Researchers identified a new species of bat that had been lurking in museums, nestled among bats of other species and quietly going undetected for over a century. With the startling surprise discovery, researchers decided to aptly name the species, Lonchophylla inexpectata.

New Species of Bat Discovered is Already On Display at Museums

A new study published in the open-access journal ZooKeys has found a new species of bat in museums all over the world had been misidentified for over a century. Researchers officially welcomed the new bat into the world by classifying it with a new name Lonchophylla inexpectata, a humorous nod to its unexpected discovery among bats of a related species, Lonchophylla mordax.

Dr. Ricardo Moratelli and Dr. Daniela Dias made the finding as they researched bat specimens that had been collected, preserved, and put on display at museums under the taxon L. mordax all over the world. The researchers noticed several inconsistencies in some of the bat specimens, namely paler fur color on the ventral side (think ‘belly’) of the bat. Other indicators were differing skull sizes and teeth shape.New Species of Bat, Hiding in Museums for over a Century - Clapay

While most people would simply overlook these differences, Moratelli and Dias drew a hypothesis that there was a completely new species of bat within the museum specimens.

Defining Characteristics of the New Species

Though the researchers were convinced it was a new species, as scientists they had to test the hypothesis. They observed characteristic from the Lonchophylla species of bat from different museums around the world, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Natural History Museum in London , and the Brazilian National Museum.

Their hypothesis that L. expectata was a new species was conclusively founded as the results poured in regarding abdominal fur color, skull and tooth morphology, and the lack of fur on the dorsal part of its forearm.

The researchers also concluded that the L. expectata lives in the Caatinga of Brazil, a dry, rich forest area in the northeastern region.

Nectar-eating Bats add a New Species to Museum Display Cases

The new species was carefully distinguished by eyes that paid close attention to detail, sussing out the new species between two look-alike species of L. mordax and L. dekeyseri. These two neighboring species of the same genus live in the Caatinga, Cerrado, and Atlantic Forest of Brazil. The genus of bats are important to Brazil’s ecological system as they are nectar-eating bats that are responsible for pollinating the deserts.

Though they’ve been hanging out in museums since 1903, L. expectata now has a name of its own in the display case as the new species of bat.


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