Researchers on Wednesday announced the discovery of a new bat species in Africa that has a striking mix of fiery orange and black colors, according to reports.
The new Halloween-colored bat, Myotis nimbaensis, was found after scientists set out on an expedition in 2018 to study the habitat of an endangered bat species in the West African country of Guinea, the New York Times reported.
“It was a kind of life goal in a way that I never thought would happen,” said Dr. Jon Flanders, Director of Endangered Species Interventions at Bat Conservation International, a non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas. “Every species is important, but you̵
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However, it took approx. two years to determine that Myotis nimbaensis was a new species. (The bat is named after Guinea’s Nimba Mountains, where it was discovered.) The confirmation and details of the find were published Wednesday in the American Museum Novitates.
“When I first saw it, I thought it was a common species,” said Dr. Eric Bakwo Fils, a bat expert at the University of Maroua in Cameroon, according to the paper.
Researchers said they found pumpkin-orange bats mixed with the usual browns in their trap and initially thought it was just a strangely colored one.
Dr. Flanders and Dr. Bakwo Fils spent that night solving the mystery.
“The following morning I met Eric, and almost at the same time we said, ‘This is a new species,'” said Dr. Flanders.
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Experts say there are about 20 new bat species each year, according to the Washington Post. Although no one typically has the striking appearance of Myotis nimbaensis.
“The color is just phenomenal,” Flanders told the newspaper. “Its wings are black with those orange fingers. There are not many orange bats in the world. I do not tend to work with so many colorful bats. It is certainly an unusual one for me.”
After their findings, the researchers determined – through genetic analysis – that Myotis nimbaensis was at least five percent different from its closest relatives.
The next step is to learn about species ecology so they can decide how best to protect it, Flanders said, according to the New York Times. Dr. Bakwo Fils added that he hopes the unique discovery and buzz around it will act as a catalyst to better protect the region’s bats.
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“This discovery is very important in terms of West Africa’s bat biodiversity, because although bats are a very important component of our ecosystems, they rarely get attention,” he said.