Blogs & Videos: Bats

Not One, Not Two, But Four New Species!

In our recent history, it has not been uncommon for scientists to collect plant and animal specimens from the remotest corners of our planet, and then bring them home to be a part of a collection at a museum.  It’s also not uncommon for some of these specimens to remain undescribed (meaning that no official characterization of the animal has been published in the scientific literature) for years, due to the large number of specimens in the collection.  Many times, new species have been discovered hiding among the specimens in a collection, sometimes 50 years after the specimen was collected.  Of course, it helps if the animal is fossilized – this is the reason scientists are still discovering new species of dinosaurs that once walked the earth!

Fieldwork on "The Bats of Kenya"

MacArthur Curator Bruce Patterson (Zoology-Mammals) just returned from a three-week trip to Kenya's South Coast.  Three counties--Kwale, Mombasa, and Kilifi, lying between Malindi and the Tanzanian border--harbor Kenya's richest bat faunas.  Many congregate in the coral caves which line the coastal plain.  Some of these colonies contain more than 100,000 individual bats and virtually all contain multiple bat species.  The caves are used by both fruit bats and insectivorous bats, and it does not take long to appreciate that each bat species uses particular roosting sites within the caves.  Some are restricted to well-lit, well ventilated parts of caves, while other only inhabit caves that offer dark, secluded, and poorly ventilated pockets.

Recently acquired ectoparasites

In September, following the 2nd Peruvian Mammal Congress, a group of us--headed by Dr. Horacio Zeballos and members of his lab at Univ. San Agustin in Arequipa, headed to the Pacific Coast to sample lomas formations near Atiquipa.  During three nights there, we caught representatives of two highly endemic bats restricted to the arid Western Slope of the Andes, the nectar-feeder Platalina and the insect-eating Amorphochilus.