(NEXSTAR) – Scientists have announced the discovery of a new bat species, found high in the mountains of West Africa.
With its big ears and retracting wings, the new species certainly looks similar to its previously described bat comrades. But one thing makes Myotis nimbaensis stand out from the pack: It boasts bright orange fur and black wings.
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” said Dr. Winifred Frick, the Chief Scientist at Bat Conservation International.
There are currently 1,400 known species of bats. But the discovery of the bright-orange bat in Guinea is particularly exceptional.
“It’s such a rare opportunity to discover a bat that hasn’t been previously described,” Frick said. “And it’s such a spectacular animal … This particular bat is one of the showiest in terms of its beautiful fur and wings.”
The bat was found while researchers were working on a critically endangered bat in the Nimba mountain range of Guinea. Its shock of bright fur instantly caught researchers eyes as it flew out of an abandoned mining tunnel.
The tunnels, Frick said, were built in the 1970s to explore an ore deposit. These days, “They make really great bat homes.”
There’s more to discovering a new species than garnering street cred.
According to Frick, “Knowing what species are in different areas and documenting biodiversity is such an important part of protecting species.”
“Knowing where species live — and making sure we protect these natural habitats — is part of the work we do for conservation and for people.”