• Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

Discovery Of New Bat Species In Meghalaya

Scientists have discovered yet another bat species from Meghalaya state, which has been unknown from India. A team of scientists led by Dr. Uttam Saikia of Zoological Survey of India, Shillong, and scientists from a few European natural history museums has recently reported a very specialized bamboo dwelling bat species Lailad area adjacent to Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary in Meghalaya. The finding has been published in the recent edition of the Swiss journal Revue Suisse de Zoologie. Eudiscopus denticulus, aptly called disk-footed bat, is very distinctive in appearance with prominent disk-like pads in the thumb and bright orange coloration. While sampling in a bamboo patch adjacent to Nongkhyllem WLS last Summer, Dr. Saikia and his ZSI colleagues stumbled upon a striking-looking small bat. The modifications in the feet were presumed to be a bamboo dwelling species that was later identified as a disk-footed bat. This bat is reported to roost inside bamboo internodes aided by their adhesive disks. This species is known from a few localities in Southern China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. This new locality in Meghalaya is about 1000 km westward range extension of the species. The current record has added genus (a category above species) and species to the bat fauna of India. The researchers noted that although several bamboo dwelling bat species are common throughout Southeast Asia, this bat is nowhere commonly found and known only from a few localities worldwide. The research team also compared the specific DNA sequence of the Meghalaya individual with that of specimens from Vietnam. Very interestingly, despite a sizeable geographic distance separating the samples, they were found to be identical. And they were also found to be genetically very different from all other known bats bearing disk-like pads. The researchers have hypothesized that Eudiscopus populations from Vietnam and Meghalaya may have a very recent common origin. All existing bat populations expanded from the same region following the recent expansion of human-made bamboo forests. From the analysis of the very high-frequency echolocation calls of the Meghalaya individual, they noted that the call structure is suitable for orientation in a cluttered environment like inside bamboo grooves. It is noteworthy to mention that Dr. Saikia and colleagues have been documenting the bat fauna of India for some years now. They have reported several interesting species from Meghalaya and raising the tally to an astonishingly high 66 bat species from the state. This discovery further highlights the need for more comprehensive documentation of lesser-known aspects of biodiversity for a state with abound natural resources but rapid ecological degradations.

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