Thursday, July 23, 2015

A new bat: Lonchophylla inexpectata

Lonchophylla mordax (Credit  Frederico Acaz Sonntag)
During their study of the bat genus Lonchophylla two Brazilian researchers found that some of the specimens had considerably paler fur and that some of their measurements were inconsistent with those of other specimens of the presumed species (Lonchophylla mordax). To their surprise, a closer look revealed that this was indeed a completely different species, previously unknown to science.

The new species was named Lonchophylla inexpectata - inspired by the surprise element in this new discovery. Using specimens from all currently recognised Brazilian representatives of the Lonchophylla genus, the scientists concluded that what they had thought a mere variation of the colouring, is in fact one of the species' distinguishable characteristics. Others include differences in the skull and the teeth morphology. Specimens from the 'unexpected' bat species had been misidentified for more than a century.

For our experts: We describe Lonchophylla inexpectata sp. n. from the Caatinga of Brazil. This new species can be distinguished from all known species of Lonchophylla that occur in Brazil by dental traits, cranial size, and fur colour. Specimens of L. inexpectata have been misidentified as L. mordax; but L. inexpectata is a pale-venter species, similar in external appearance to L. dekeyseri. We have found L. inexpectata in the Caatinga of North-eastern Brazil; L. mordax along the eastern border of the Caatinga and in the Atlantic Forest–Caatinga ecotone in North-eastern Brazil; and L. dekeyseri in the Cerrado of Mid-western Brazil, in the Brazilian Cerrado–Caatinga ecotone, and as far west as the Cerrado of Bolivia.

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