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Fuzzy, Golden Bat Species Discovered in Bolivia

Aug 05, 2014 01:16 PM EDT

A newly identified fuzzy, golden bat species was discovered in Bolivia, scientists reported, joining the ranks as a cuter version of these typically spooky creatures.

The Bolivian bat is described in the Journal of Mammalogy.

Myotis midastactus had been seen before in the Amazon, but was misclassified as a member of a similar species found in South America called Myotis simus. Dr. Ricardo Moratelli from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil confirmed this discovery after examining the unusual species from the bat collection in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

"This new species have been misidentified as Myotis simus since 1965," Moratelli told Discovery News. "When I put Amazon and Bolivian specimens side-by-side I realized they were two different species."

There are more than 100 species of Myotis - or mouse-eared bats - in the world, but what makes this particular species unique is its bright golden fur. The bat actually gets its name, midastactus, from the Greek myth of King Midas and his golden touch.

Scientists believe the bat lives solely in the savannas of Bolivia - an arid climate - where it feeds on small insects, though Moratelli has yet to capture one for study. A nocturnal mammal, the bat snoozes in nests during the day in hollow trees, under thatched roofs and in holes in the ground.

His conclusions, therefore, have been based on previous collections of the bat.

"In 2011, I spent two months in the Brazilian Savannah (in the boundary with Bolivia) trying to capture living individuals to get fresh tissues to perform DNA comparisons but none was captured," Moratelli said.

According to BBC Nature, the conservation status of Myotis midastactus has yet to be determined, but it is believed that they are "near threatened."

And despite the lack of specimens, Moratelli is still very excited about the discovery of this new species.

He told BBC that "Discovering new species is the most exciting part of my research, and in some cases describing a new species can be the first step to preserve others."

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