A new species of bat has been discovered in St. Vincent; it has been dubbed Micronycteris garifuna:
At first glance, the bat captured in St. Vincent looked like a common type found in South America.
But after closer inspection, Texas Tech University biologists discovered a new species found only on the Caribbean island and whose origins probably trace back to a dramatic marooning after glaciers receded and sea levels rose.
The discovery was made by Peter Larsen, a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Lizette Siles, graduate student of zoology. It was featured in the online version of the peer-reviewed journal, Mammalian Biology.
Researchers from the University of Scranton, South Dakota State University and the University of Nebraska also contributed to the discovery.
As a way of honoring St. Vincent’s inhabitants, the researchers said this new species of the genus Micronycteris has been named after the Garifuna people – the blended culture of Carib, Arawak and West African peoples that trace their ancestry back to St. Vincent.
Larsen said he went to St. Vincent in 2005-2006 on two expeditions with a team of researchers seeking to categorize bat diversity on the island.
“We didn’t know at the time when we caught these particular specimens that it was a new species,” he said. “We thought it was a species that had been described already in South America. A year or so went by, and I happened to look at this species that we had collected and compared it to what we thought it was – a species from Trinidad. But the St. Vincent bat was huge comparatively speaking.”
A previous bat-related story from St. VIncent and the Grenadines: Bats in St. Vincent offer insights into mammal hybridization.
[Photo: Peter Larsen and Lizette Siles, Texas Tech University via news.dicovery.com]