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A new subspecies of bamboo bat discovered in the Andamans

A new species of bamboo bats have been discovered by researchers in the Andamans. The nomenclature of bamboo bats are a result of their fondness to roost and reside in the hollows of large bamboo shoots, common in South-eastern Asia, especially India, Myanmar, Laos, southern China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Phillipines and some parts of Indonesia, namely Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Sulawesi. These bats have flat skulls, allowing them to squeeze through slits in the bamboo stems caused by beetle larvae infestation. The bats prefer their residence in the bamboo to protect them against big predators like snakes. There are different sub species of the bamboo bats in differing areas of their existence.  Tylonycteris pachypus is the species common in Andamans, while  Tylonycteris malayana is found in the Malay peninsula and other parts of south east Asia, but not Andamans. In November 2015, a survey was carried out in the Andamans, and bamboo bats were collected from Chipo in North Andaman as part of an Indo-UK collaborative project aimed to survey and conserve the mammalian diversity of the Andaman Islands. Th survey team mist-netted two male bamboo bats for study and erroneously misidentified them as  Tylonycteris pachypus , the only species of bamboo bats known from Andamans until 2014. It was later revealed and confirmed to be an entirely new sub-species of  Tylonycteris malayana. The new bamboo bat subspecies differs from other members of its species in physical appearance and genetic makeup and have been named  Tylonycteris malayana eremtaga having slightly smaller and broader skulls and are greyish brown in colour. While Andaman islands boast to being a habitat for a varied number of subspecis of bats, including   the greater short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus sphinx), Tickell’s bat (Hesperoptenus tickellii),  the lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis), and the Andaman intermediate horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis andamanensis), the newly discovered subspecies of bamboo bat is currently found only in Chipo village in North Andaman. 

– As reported by Mongabay

 

cover pic: A typical bat territory. Photo by Aditya Srinivasulu.

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