Bat species thought to be extinct found in Papua New Guinea

"We need to develop new strategies to monitor the species, protect them," said Luke Leung.
By Brooks Hays  |  Updated June 4, 2014 at 4:18 PM
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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea, June 4 (UPI) -- Looking for a good hiding place? Try the rain forests of Papua New Guinea. That's where a species of bat, Pharotis imogene, recently staked out, able to evade probing biologists for more than 120 years.

The elusive bat had a good run, but it's now been rediscovered by researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia.

"The species was presumed extinct," said researcher Dr. Luke Leung. That's before Leung and students got their hands on a female New Guinea Big-eared bat while surveying the Abau coastal district of Papua New Guinea´s Central Province. DNA testing confirmed the bat wasn't a member of any currently catalogued species. Finally, the students were able to match the bat to specimens collected by an Italian scientist named Dr. L. Loria in 1890. When subsequent attempts to locate other specimens failed, the species was presumed extinct.

The new discovery momentarily discounts such a notion, but the species may still be severely threatened.

Leung and his team are currently conducting followup research to ascertain how large a New Guinea Big-eared bat population exists.

Pointing out that his expedition had only located a single specimen, Leung worried: "Are they in such small numbers that they are endangered by logging or mining or any other disturbance?"

"We need to develop new strategies to monitor the species, protect them," he added. "Many of the coastal lowland habitats throughout Papua New Guinea are among the most threatened in the country due to clearing for logging and agriculture."

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