Scientists recently discovered a new bat species in Meghalaya. The latest find has increased the number of bat species in the north-eastern state to 66. India has a total of 130 bat species.
The discovery was made by a group of scientists led by Dr. Uttam Saikia of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Shillong.
According to Dr Saikia, the bamboo-dwelling bat species was found in Lailad area adjacent to the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary. The discovery has been published in the latest edition of a Swiss journal-- Revue Suisse de Zoologie.
The species, which has been named Eudiscopus denticulus (disk-footed bat), has prominent "disk like pads on its thumb with a bright orange colouration.”
The ZSI scientists made the discovery while sampling a bamboo patch adjacent to the sanctuary. "From the modifications in its feet, it was presumed to be a bamboo-dwelling species which was later identified as a disk-footed bat. This bat is reported to roost inside bamboo internodes aided by its adhesive disks. So far, this species has only been reported in a few localities in Southern China, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar," Dr Saikia said in a statement.
When researchers compared the DNA sequence of this bat species with that of the same species found in Vietnam they found that the DNA sequences were very identical.
"Very interestingly, despite a large 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 statement said.
Researchers have hypothesized that Eudiscopus bats from Vietnam and Meghalaya may have a very recent common origin and all existing bat populations expanded from the same region, following recent expansion of man-made bamboo forests. From the analysis of the high frequency echolocation calls of the Meghalayan bat species, they noted that the call structure is suitable for orientation in a cluttered environment like inside bamboo groves.
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