New long-fingered bat discovered in India, SL

New long-fingered bat species discovered in India, Sri Lanka

by Staff Writer 22-08-2022 | 1:04 PM

An international team of researchers has found a new species of long-fingered bats in India and Sri Lanka, close on the heels of the discovery of a thick-thumbed bat species in Meghalaya.

The team led by Tharaka Kusuminda of University of Ruhuna in the island country named the new species of long-fingered bats as Miniopterus phillipsi.

It was named after W W A Philips (1892-1981) in recognition of his contributions to studies on the mammals of Sri Lanka and South Asia.

The specimens for this species were collected from Idulgashinna cave in Uva Province in Sri Lanka and are now deposited in the Natural History Museum of the neighbouring country.

The initial research was carried out in Sri Lanka in 2019 and it took three years to be completed in both Sri Lanka and India.

The discovery has been published in Acta Chiropterologica, an international scientific journal.

Researchers found that the population of long-fingered bats in Robber's cave in Mahabaleshwar in the Western Ghats of India also belongs to this species which was earlier mistaken as Eastern bent-winged bats.

The long-fingered bats belonging to the family Miniopteridae are part of a large group comprising at least 40 species worldwide.

They have similar morphology and overlapping dimensions rendering species identification problematic.

To describe this new species, researchers have DNA barcoded the specimens from India and Sri Lanka and compared them with all other Asian members of this group and found strong evidence for these specimens as belonging to a distinct species.

Besides, researchers also analysed the morphological and anatomical features of the new species with the congeners occurring in India and Sri Lanka and found that the new species is indeed distinct, Kusuminda said.

"The Long-fingered bats are obligatory cave and tunnel dwellers living in large colonies and this new species is also no exception," the researcher stated.

While in Sri Lanka it is relatively widespread, more studies are needed to determine its exact distribution range in India.

At least 13 renowned scientists were involved in this particular research - six from Sri Lanka and one each from India, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, the UK, and the USA.

A team of scientists had recently discovered a new species of thick-thumbed bat from a bamboo forest in Meghalaya and named it after the state.

The discovery of Glischropus meghalayanus was published in Zootaxa, a prominent taxonomic journal.