Monday, August 08, 2016

New mammals keep popping up

Australian scientists are on the verge of pinning down two new species in the Solomon Islands: a previously undiscovered member of the group known as monkey-faced bats and a giant rat.  Some people would say we don't need a new rat, let alone a giant one, but a report by a local chief, Esau, was the inspiration for the current expedition, and it would be a definite gain for science.   The monkey-faced bats are a group of five species indigenous to the islands (according to the article linked: I note there is also an animal called the Fijian monkey-faced bat. Now I've confused myself, thank you very much. See a good article on the critically endangered Fijian bat here. The Fijian and Solomons monkey-faced bats were originally in the same genus, but the Fijian species was moved out of Pteralopex and got its own genus, Mirimiri, in 2005). 
Now where was I? Yes, the Solomon Islands monkey-faced bats.  Dr. Tyrone Lavery notes these bats have "evolved here in Solomon Islands to take on roles that in other places would be occupied by things like monkeys or possums."  Meanwhile, in Gibraltar, a place one would think had been cataloged long ago, the discovery is not a new species, but the news that the Greater Horseshoe Bat   resides on the island is a reminder that  we don't always know what's right under our feet - or right over our heads. 

Example of one of the Solomon Islands monkey-faced bats. P. atrata, shows why the genus has its popular name (illustration credit unknown)


Laurence Clark Crossen said...

Matt Bille said...

VERY cool. Thanks!