Bats are full of surprises, starting with their flying abilities and complex sonar system used for hunting to the electromagnetic Earth field detection used for navigation.
A species living in Madagascar has a unique adaptation: foot suckers.
What's so special is that the suckers are located on the bat's wrists!
Many frogs and lizards possess suckers for climbing, but they are always located on the tip of their fingers and toes.
It lives in the eastern wet forests of Madagascar and the suckers help the bat to cling on slick green leaves of palms during the day. This species forms a unique bat
family endemic to Madagascar.
Now, biologists have found a sister species of the Myzopoda aurita, named Myzopoda schliemanni, in the dry western forests of the big island. The two species are spotted where broad-leafed plants, especially the Travelers' Palm, are plentiful. Till now, sucker-footed bats were considered endangered because there was only one known species which is very rare and has a limited distribution. Bit this finding enlarged the range of the sucker-footed bats.
As the new species inhabits dry forests, sucker-footed bats could, then, survive even if tropical forests are lost to deforestation - a big problem in Madagascar where less than 10 % of the island's virgin forests are left intact. "For now, we do not have to worry as much about the future of Myzopoda," said Steven M. Goodman, Field Museum biologist.
"We can put conservation efforts on behalf of this bat on the backburner because it is able to live in areas that have been completely degraded, contrary to what is indicated or inferred in the current literature."
Biologists think this species evolved from the eastern species, when it dispersed from the east coast to the west, due to the similarities between the two Myzopoda species. Madagascar biodiversity is one of the most critical in the world, not mentioning that the island has one of the highest levels of endemism (strictly located there) on Earth, like lemur species.
The largest bird ever, Aepyornis (elephant bird: 3 m (10 feet) tall and 500 kg), lived in Madagascar, being likely wiped out by people in the 16th century.
Photo credit: Merlin Tuttle, Bat Conservation International