Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A new bat: Otomops harrisoni

The bat genus Otomops belongs to the family of the so called free-tailed bats (Molossidae). Most species of this genus are distributed in South East Asia and only two are known to occur in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. 

Today's new species was found in the highlands of Ethiopia and its common name is quite a mouthful: Harrison’s large-eared giant mastiff bat.  The new species was named after the late renowned mammalogist, taxonomist and bat expert Dr. David L. Harrison (1926–2015).

For the experts: The paucity of data for the molossid bat Otomops throughout its range has hindered our ability to resolve the number of Otomops species present within the Afro-Malagasy region (including the Arabian Peninsula). This paper employed an integrative approach by combining morphometric (cranial morphology) and molecular (mitochondrial cytochrome b and Dloop sequences, nuclear intron sequences and microsatellites) data to identify the number of Otomops taxa occurring in the Afro-Malagasy region. Three taxa were identified, two of which could be assigned to existing species, i.e. O. martiensseni and O. madagascariensis. The third taxon, previously recognised as O. martiensseni (Matschie 1897), is described herein as a new species, Otomops harrisoni sp. nov., and can be differentiated from O. martiensseni s.s. based on both molecular and morphometric data. Locality data of specimens belonging to O. harrisoni suggest that its distribution range extends from the Arabian Peninsula through to Eritrea and south to Ethiopia and Kenya.

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