A thick-thumbed bat species has been discovered in Meghalaya's bamboo forest

SHILLONG: 17th June 2022 (PTI Source)

A new species of thick-thumbed bat has been found in Meghalaya's bamboo forest. To commemorate the 50th statehood day of Meghalaya where it was discovered this year, the researchers have named the new species, 'Glischropus Meghalayanus.'

In the latest issue of Zootaxa, a team of researchers from the ZSI (Zoological-Survey of India) in Shillong plus two from Hungary and Geneva, Switzerland, published their findings.

Scientists from the ZSI, Dr Manuel Ruedi of the Natural History Museum of Geneva, and Dr Gabor Csorba of the Hungarian Natural History Museum, identified this new bat species near a forest in Lailad of the Ri-Bhoi district (Meghalaya), which lies next to the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary.

The bat was discovered to have fleshy pads on the thumb and soles of its feet, which aids it to crawl over smooth internodes of bamboos. Earlier, there were four species of thick-thumbed bats known throughout the world and all are found in the Southeast Asian region. The discovery of a thick-thumbed bat from India is the first confirmation of its kind, according to the research team.

In the summer of 2020, Sai Kia captured two specimens of the species in Meghalaya. The researchers compared the Meghalaya fossils to a huge collection of all other species under this genus kept in natural history museums across the world and determined that they represent a unique species.

With this fresh information, the total number of bat species present in India has risen to 131, with Meghalaya having the most diverse bats with 67 species.

Since the new bat was found near Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, which has comparable vegetation, the researchers predicted that it might be found in the sanctuary region as well.