Saturday, January 6, 2007

My Birthday Bat, Myzopoda schliemanni

New Sucker-footed Bat Discovered In Madagascar

How cool: a new species of bat discovered in Madagascar and announced on my birthday! Not only a new species, but some good news for bat conservation:

Scientists have discovered a new species of bat that has large flat adhesive organs, or suckers, attached to its thumbs and hind feet. This is a remarkable find because the new bat belongs to a Family of bats endemic to Madagascar--and one that was previously considered to include only one rare species...the new species, Myzopoda schliemanni, occurs only in the dry western forests of Madagascar, while the previously known species, Myzopoda aurita, occurs only in the humid eastern forests of Madagascar...Myzopoda are often found in association with broad-leaf plants...

Myzopoda were considered endangered because of their limited habitat. But the new species appears to have adapted well to more degraded habitats.

"For now, we do not have to worry as much about the future of Myzopoda," said Steven M. Goodman, Field Museum field biologist and lead author of the study. "We can put conservation efforts on behalf of this bat on the backburner because it is able to live in areas that have been completely degraded, contrary to what is indicated or inferred in the current literature." This underlines the importance of basic scientific research for establishing the priorities for conservation programs and assessments of presumed rare and possibly endangered animals, the study concludes... Madagascar has a higher level of endemism (with plants and animals found nowhere else) than any other landmass in the world of comparable size. "Still today, you can go out and discover things in Madagascar that have never before been seen by scientists," Goodman said. "The sense of discovery is almost levitating."

What makes this genus of bats so distinctive is a bulbous sucker-like appendage on their wings. This organ helps them cling to leaves. What a beautiful animal!

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