Thursday, January 23, 2014

A new bat species

Myotis annatessae, skull drawings
About 17 years ago my colleague Alex Borisenko was actively collecting bats in Vietnam. A small collection of bats as part of an ecological assessment in the Vu Quang Nature Reserve (Ha Tinh Province) contained several specimens of small mouse eared bats (genus Myotis) and  he provisionally identified those as ‘Myotis siligorensis'. 

Years later he and his colleague from the Zoological Museum at the Moscow State University had a chance to do some more in-depth comparisons with a larger series of South-East Asian Myotis and they found clear morphological differences of the Vu Quang specimens from the real Myotis siligorensis and its related forms. This was further confirmed by DNA Barcoding analysis which showed marked genetic divergence between the groups. The logical consequence -  the Vu Quang specimens represent a new bat species and the researchers provide these findings and a full formal description in a recently published paper.

The new species resembles smaller specimens of the widespread South Asian Myotis muricola, though differs from it and from other small mouse-eared bats by a set of cranial and external characters. Genetic analyses confirm that the new species is distinct from the other named forms of Asian Myotis. Comparison of sequence diversity in the DNA barcode region of the COI gene among East Asian members of Myotis, highlighted several taxonomic questions related to Asian ‘whiskered bats’, suggesting that common morphological diagnostic traits may be shared by genetically divergent species.
The young scientist Anna Tess
showing interest in the plant kingdom

When it came to naming the new species, the authors decided to name it Myotis annatessae in honor of Alex's two-year old daughter Anna Tess. I like this idea far more than naming new species after some celebrities. And who knows, maybe this close connection to the scientific name of an animal will instill the future wish to pursue science or simply nurture appreciation for nature and its wonders. Either way, a great choice, and it sounds good, too. 


  1. Indeed the DOI does not work as the journal did not put up the article yet. I suggest contacting Alex Borisenko to ask for a pdf.