Courtesy of National Geographic, we have a new bat—Griffin ‘s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini)—discovered in Vietnam four years ago but only now described in the Journal of Mammalogy. It resembled an already-known species but was distinguished by small differences in morphology, mitochondrial DNA sequence, and frequencies of the echolocation call.
Leaf-nosed bats are found in both the New and Old World, and the New World ones are the most numerous group in the order Chiroptera (bats), which itself is one of the most diverse order of mammals, second only to rodents (40% of mammal species are rodents; 20% are bats). A probably aprocryphal story relates evolutionist J. B. S. Haldane’s answer when asked what one could infer about the Creator from surveying his creation. “An inordinate fondness for beetles,” Haldane supposedly said. (Of the roughly 1.7 million described species on Earth, 300,000-400,000 are in the order Coleoptera—beetles.) If that question were asked about mammals, one could reply that God showed an inordinate fondness for rodents and bats, and a notable distaste for primates.
The function of the “leaf” isn’t fully known, but it’s suspected to be important in receiving the echolocation signals emitted by bats.
Here’s Figure 1 from the paper:
You may find this beast ugly, but that’s speciesism! I find all animals beautiful because they’re products of evolution, embodying all the mechanisms that drive the process. The ugliness, in this case, is probably a byproduct of natural selection.
Bats are often called “flying rodents,” but they’re not even close to rodents. They are in completely different orders of mammals: Rodentia vs. Chiroptera. Here’s a phylogeny of mammalian groups based on Tree of Life data from the University of Arizona and Berkeley, which clearly shows that humans are more closely related to rodents than rodents are to bats (see also my more comprehensive post on mammalian phylogenies from last October). It’s the weekend, so you can use that bit of information as cocktail-party chat, guaranteed to stop all conversation.
Thong, V. D. et al. 2012. A new species of Hipposideros (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) from Vietnam. J. Mammalogy 93:1-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1644/11-MAMM-A-073.1