Micronycteris garifuna (Photo credit: Peter Larsen and Lizette Siles, Texas Tech University) 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.”

Read more in this article from physorg.com as well as in this report from the Discovery news blog.

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]

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7 Responses to “New species of bat discovered in St. Vincent, named in honour of the Garifuna people” Subscribe

  1. Garifuna Diaspora June 29, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    As a people, the Callinago, predecessors of the Garifuna people resisted 300 years of colonial expansion on their island home of St. Vincent beginning with the arrival of Columbus in 1492. When the European invaders of the New World couldn’t overpower or enslave the Amerindian natives, they opted instead to tarnish the name and ancestry of the Garifuna nation by labeling them cannibals. Finally, in 1797, after being held on a concentration camp for a year on the island of Balliceaux, the Garinagu were stripped of their island home and shipped to Central America. It seemed as though the legacy of the Garfiuna chief, Joseph Chatoyer, had endured the ultimate insult with this forced migration, but the new imperialists in their disguised paternalism have managed to defile the name Garifuna once again. Naming a bat “Garifuna” is an abomination to the Garifuna people.

  2. Helen Laurie June 30, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Mr. Larsen claims this name “brings light to their history” but Garinagu (Garifuna people) see this gesture as another insult and denigration of our people, as it associates the name Garifuna with a mammal feared and reviled throughout the history of man.
    I call on Garinagu to protest this action and demand a renaming of this creature.

  3. Helen Laurie June 30, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    I call on Garinagu to protest this action and demand a renaming of this creature. Since Mr. Larsen sees this action as honorable, then he should give his name to the creature.

    This is not only abominable, it’s disrespectful and could be construed as racist.

  4. Confused July 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    The Garifuna people are the ones that being construed as racist in this situation. Lighten up, if you do not like scientific findings or proceedings then have a well known and respected Garifuna mammalogist rename the species in an equivalent journal of scientific merit. That should be easy right?

  5. Eve Estrada July 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I am Garifuna and I love bat!

  6. Eve Estrada July 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    I am Garifuna and I love the bat!

  7. Garifuna Pride December 29, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Peter Larsen is a vampire!

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