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EducationNature

New Species Found on Shelf – In a Jar

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A new species of Samoan fruit bat or ‘flying fox’ was discovered at the Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia by Kristofer M. Helgen, a Research Zoologist and Curator of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Helgen, the lead author of the paper published in American Museum Novitates, noticed the bat within one hour of being on the premises of the Academy of Sciences. (There are about 17 million biological specimens housed at the Academy.)

Along with 15,000 other specimens, the fruit bat is stored in a room without windows on metal shelves. It was found in a jar of alcohol, and is thought now to probably be extinct. It was killed and collected in 1856 in Samoa on the island of Upolu. The island is the second largest and most populated of Samoa. It is also home to an extremely tiny spider the size of a period ending a sentence. (Robert Louis Stevinson, the author of “Treasure Island” lived there).

There are potentially thousands of plant and animal specimens at the Academy of Sciences existing in a preserved state, waiting to be formally scientifically analyzed, defined, and documented.

“There are more discoveries to be made behind the scenes,” Helgen said. “I look forward to getting back to the academy and doing it more justice, and seeing what else unexpected is locked away in the cabinets.”

The specimen has a wingspan of two feet, and weighs half a pound. It was given the name Pteropus allenorum. (The animal pictured above is not the exact species mentioned in the article, but a photo was not readily available.) The conservation status of the Samoan Flying Fox is Near Threatened.

Image Credit: Samoan Flying Fox Wiki




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