New Genus of Bat Discovered in South Sudan

Posted on April 9, 2013

Niumbaha superba Striped Bat


A new genus of bat has been discovered by researchers from Bucknell University and Fauna & Flora International in South Sudan. The bat species, Niumbaha superba, is striped like a badger. It was found in the Bangangai Game Reserve.

DeeAnn Reeder, Bucknell Associate Professor of Biology, said in a statement, "My attention was immediately drawn to the bat's strikingly beautiful and distinct pattern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extraordinary animal, one that I had never seen before. I knew the second I saw it that it was the find of a lifetime."

Niumbaha superba Photo 2


After returning to the United States, Reeder determined the bat was the same as one originally captured in nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1939 and named Glauconycteris superba, but she and colleagues did not believe that it fit with other bats in the genus Glauconycteris.

Reeder says, "After careful analysis, it is clear that it doesn't belong in the genus that it's in right now. Its cranial characters, its wing characters, its size, the ears - literally everything you look at doesn't fit. It's so unique that we need to create a new genus."

In the research paper published in ZooKeys, Reeder, along with co-authors from the Smithsonian Institution and the Islamic University in Uganda, place the bat into a new genus - Niumbaha. The word means "rare" or "unusual" in Zande, the language of the Azande people in Western Equatoria State, where the bat was found.

Photos courtesy of Bucknell University/DeeAnn Reeder