Ice Age Bat Survives in New Guinea


Another animal has joined the ranks of those previously thought to be extinct.

Actually, Bulmer's fruit bat was removed from the extinct list twice, once in 1970 and a second time in 1992. Bulmer's fruit bat was originally known only through fossil remains and was believed to have become extinct 10,000 years ago, at the end of the ice age. In 1970, its remains were found at the site of a bat colony exterminated by local native hunters with newly acquired shotguns. In 1992, a surviving population was discovered in a cave whose sides were so sheer and so deep, that humans found it impossible to enter.

Bulmer's fruit bat is a bit of an oddity in the bat world as well. Its wings meet in the middle of its back, giving it extreme maneuverability, and it is one of the few species of bat that can fly backwards and hover. Unlike most insectivorous bats, Bulmer's fruit bat does not have a well-developed echo location system, so it relies on sight. When it roosts, it makes a sound like some species of New Guinea parakeets.

(Bats, Spring 1994. Credit: Walt Gavenda.)

Check out this link for the original article on the rediscovery, by renowned mammalogist Tim Flannery.