New Bat Genus Found in South Sudan Resembles Panda with Black and White Strips

New Bat Genus

During a trip to South Sudan’s Bangangai Game Preserve in July 2012, scientists were collecting bats and noticed one of them in the net didn’t look like the others.

DeeAnn Reeder, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University, uncovered this extraordinary new genus of bat that she calls the “find of a lifetime.”

“I was just ecstatic,” Reeder told Business Insider. “Those moments in your life just come up so rarely.”

The striped “panda bat,” as it resembles a panda with white and black strips, is the first of its kind collected in the African country.

“We’ve suggested the common name be badger bat,” Reeder said. However, she says, she sees the resemblance to a panda, particularly in patterns on the bat’s face.

“My attention was immediately drawn to the bat’s strikingly beautiful and distinct pattern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extraordinary animal, one that I had never seen before,” recalled Reeder in a statement. “I knew the second I saw it that it was the find of a lifetime.”

“We figured out eventually that it was the same as this thing that had been described in the Congo in 1939,” Reeder said. “And it was given a name at that time that was Glauconycteris superba, and I know the other animals in this genus Glauconycteris pretty well and when I had this animal in my hand in the field I knew there was no way it belonged to that group.”

“After careful analysis, it is clear that it doesn’t belong in the genus that it’s in right now,” Reeder said. “Its cranial characters, its wing characters, its size, the ears – literally everything you look at doesn’t fit. It’s so unique that we need to create a new genus.”

Reeder thinks the rare black and white bat is only a sign of all of the new discoveries scientists will make in the area.

Funded by two $100,000 grants from the Woodtiger Fund, a private research foundation, Reeder is set to return to Africa in May to continue her exploration.

“It’s really just the tip of iceberg, Reeder said of the biodiversity in South Sudan. “There is so much that remains to be discovered there. Understanding and conserving biodiversity is critical in many ways. Knowing what species are present in an area allows for better management. When species are lost, ecosystem-level changes ensue. I’m convinced this area is one in which we need to continue to work.”

New Bat Discovery is ‘Finding of a Lifetime’

Zoologist DeeAnn Reeder of Bucknell University made what she called the “finding of a lifetime,” after she discovered a new bat in South Sudan. After careful research, her team decided the bat did not fit into the genus it was qualified under, and thus gave it a brand new name.

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