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New bat genus found in Africa

April 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM   |   Comments

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LEWISBURG, Pa., April 9 (UPI) -- A new genus of bat, with distinctive badger-like black and white markings, has been identified in South Sudan, U.S. researchers say.

Bucknell University biologist DeeAnn Reeder and Adrian Garside of Britain's Fauna & Flora International, leading a team of wildlife personnel from the South Sudanese Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, spotted a rare specimen in the Bangangi Game reserve.

"My attention was immediately drawn to the bat's strikingly beautiful and distinct pattern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extraordinary animal, one that I had never seen before," Reeder said. "I knew the second I saw it that it was the find of a lifetime."

Although a previous sighting of the distinctive bat in nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1939 had resulted in it being placed in the genus Clauconycteris, Reeder and her colleagues did not believe it fit the genus.

"After careful analysis, it is clear that it doesn't belong in the genus that it's in right now," Reeder said. "Its cranial characters, its wing characters, its size, the ears -- literally everything you look at doesn't fit. It's so unique that we need to create a new genus."

The researchers have dubbed the bat Niumbaha superba.

A new genus, Niumbaha is taken from a word meaning "rare" or "unusual" in Zande, the language of the Azande people in the region where the bat was captured.

The discovery has been published in the journal ZooKeys.

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