Recently, scientists from Bat Conservation International, Cameroon’s University of Maroua, and the American Museum of Natural History made an astonishing discovery in these mountains: a new bright orange bat species they named Myotis nimbaensis.
Bat Conservation International and partners discover a new bat species
In West Africa, the Nimba Mountains of Guinea rise high above the surrounding savannah and lowland forest, with peaks soaring a mile above sea level. This mountain range, located at the junction of Guinea, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire, forms a series of “sky islands” crucial for biodiversity, including bat diversity. Recently, scientists from Bat Conservation International, Cameroon’s University of Maroua, and the American Museum of Natural History made an astonishing discovery in these mountains: a new bright orange bat species they named Myotis nimbaensis.
The researchers were looking for Lamotte’s roundleaf bat (Hipposideros lamottei)—a critically endangered species that is only known to live in the Nimba Mountains—in 2018 when they came across an unfamiliar bat. The orange and black bat didn’t resemble Lamotte’s roundleaf bat, nor did it look like any of the other known species in the area. Unsure what species of bat they had caught, the researchers analyzed the bat’s morphological, molecular, and echolocation data, learning it was unlike any bat previously described.
In the Nimba Mountains, many bats live in old mining tunnels called “adits.” These tunnels are weathered and wearing out, making them prone to collapse. When they discovered the new species, the scientists were already working with local mining company Société des Mines de Fer de Guinée (SMFG) to study Lamotte’s roundleaf bats and learn more about their use of these adits, as well as natural caves in the area. Bat Conservation International and SMFG are working to construct reinforced tunnels and habitat for Lamotte’s roundleaf bat in the Nimba Mountains, and they hope these features will also provide habitat for Myotis nimbaensis. As the scientists work to learn more about the new species and its habitat, range, diet, behavior, and more, their work highlights the importance of preserving these unique “sky islands” which are crucial for biodiversity.
To learn more, read additional information about this exciting discovery on BCI’s website.