Pickled bat kept in vaults is a new mammal species

A pickled bat kept in the vaults of London’s Natural History Museum for 30 years is a previously unknown species.
Pickled bat kept in vaults is a new mammal species

The discovery of a new creature of the night at the museum was announced appropriately on Halloween. It was named Francis’ Woolly Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus francisi, after Charles Francis, who collected the specimen in Malaysia in 1983.

A CT scanner was used to analyse the animal’s fragile bones without having to touch it.

Museum zoologist Roberto Portela Miguez said: “The scan of the bat skull reveals spiky, sharp-edged teeth that would work like scissors to break open the hard outer-body casings of insects.

“New species for groups like insects and fishes are discovered fairly regularly, but new mammals are rarer. This is a reminder of how much we still have to discover about the natural world, and how vital museum collections are to support this research.”

A sub-species cousin of the bat, Rhinolophus francisi thailandicus, has also been found in Thailand jungles.

Several new bat species have been discovered in the jungles of south-east Asia in recent years. Their habitats are under increasing threat as rainforests are felled for logging and land is converted to agricultural use.

Francis’ Woolly Horseshoe Bat is described in the journal Acta Chiropterologica.

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