Extinct Bat Species Rediscovered in Papua New Guinea After 120 Years [VIDEO]

First Posted: Jun 05, 2014 02:44 AM EDT

A team of Australian researchers has rediscovered an extinct species of big-eared bat in Papua New Guinea after over a century.

Researchers at the University of Queensland rediscovered an 'extinct' bat species in Papua New Guinea during a field expedition conducted in the Abau coastal district in Papua New Guinea's Central Province.

Papua New Guinea is known as a biodiversity hotspot with over 7 percent of the world's species found there.

The details of this extinct bat species were taken from specimens collected for the first time in 1890 by an Italian scientist. The specimens are currently housed at Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genova, Italy.

Students Catherine Hughes and Julie Broken-Brow rediscovered the bat species after nearly 120 years. The big-eared bat and the long-eared bats called Pharotis Imogene were thought to be extinct.

"The species was presumed extinct," Dr Leung said in a news statement. "We captured one individual about 120km east of the only previous known locality at Kamali."

It is their large ears and simple nose-leaf present behind the nostrils, which distinguishes this extinct bat species from the rest.

Also called as Thomas' Big-eared Bat, this species is listed as 'critically endangered' by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on the 'Red List' of Threatened species.

There is very limited ecological information available on Papua New Guinea's bat fauna, and this lack of information makes it extremely challenging to identify the species and also conservation of the species get difficult.

"Further studies need to be done to establish whether the New Guinea big-eared bat is one of a small number of mammal species endemic to the south-eastern peninsula region, or if it occurs more widely," Dr Leung said. "Many of the coastal lowland habitats throughout Papua New Guinea are among the most threatened in the country due to clearing for logging and agriculture, and more field surveys of local bat populations could assess the conservation status of the species and inform future strategies to ensure their preservation."

The details of the findings are documented in Australian Museum Journal.


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