September 01, 2011
Murina beelzebub © Gabor Csorba/HNHM.
Researchers from Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) described the new species, which belong to a group known as tube-nosed bats.
One of the species, found in Vietnam and described as "diminutive but demonic-looking", is named the Beelzebub’s tube-nosed bat.
“We chose the name Beelzebub to reflect the dark 'diabolic' coloration of the new species, and its fierce protective behavior”, said Gabor Csorba of HNHM in a statement.
Little is known about the new species, although Neil Furey of FFI, warns that there dependence on forest habitats leaves them "especially vulnerable to ongoing deforestation in the region."
"Discovering these new species, while exciting, really represents the beginning," said Furey. "At this point, almost nothing is known about their ecology and what steps, if any, are needed to ensure their continued survival."
Paul Racey of the IUCN’s Bat Specialist Group, added that because bat fauna is so poorly known, there are probably many more bat species to be discovered in the region.
"Though bats already represent nearly a third of SE Asian mammals, recent genetic research suggests that the true number of species in the region may be twice that presently known," Racey said.
Citation: Csorba, G., Nguyen Truong Son, Ith Saveng, Furey, N.M. 2011. Revealing cryptic bat diversity: three new Murina and redescription of M. tubinaris from Southeast Asia. Journal of Mammalogy 92(4):891-904. Doi: 10.1644/10-MAMM-A-269.1