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Sunday Species Snapshot: Fijian Monkey-Faced Bat

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Fijian Monkey-faced BatThis rare bat is only known from a handful of collected animals on a single mountain on a single Melanesian island.

Species name: Fijian monkey-faced bat (Mirimiri acrodonta), the only member of its genus and the only mammal endemic to the Republic of Fiji. Also known as the Fiji flying fox.

Description: One of the larger megabats in the region, this orange-eyed bat is covered in fairly thick hair and weighs up to 350 grams. It was recognized as its own genus in 2005.

Where found: A single 100-square-kilometer rainforest region on a single mountain on Tavenui, one of Fiji’s 332 islands. The bat has only been found at elevations above 1,000 meters.

IUCN Red List status: Critically endangered due to its small population size (probably fewer than 1,000 bats) and single location.

Major threat: With such a limited range, the potential for more habitat loss is currently the main threat to this species. Additional research is required to fully understand any additional threats to this species.

Notable conservation programs & research: The Austrup Foundation and Nature Fiji have collaborated on conserving all of Fiji’s bats, and Conservation International has helped to fund and develop a species conservation plan (pdf) in 2011. Priority actions determined by the plan include securing the Taveuni Forest Reserve as a new national park and developing a better understanding of the species’ ecology. It may take a while to come up with that information: A 2012 field survey (pdf) failed to locate any of the bats. Research is ongoing, however: the Australia & Pacific Science Foundation has funded a three-year study of Fiji’s bats, including M. acrodonta.

Photo by William N. Beckon via Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons license

John R. Platt About the Author: Twice a week, John Platt shines a light on endangered species from all over the globe, exploring not just why they are dying out but also what's being done to rescue them from oblivion. Follow on Twitter @johnrplatt.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. tuned 4:06 pm 12/8/2013

    That’s one stoned lookin’ bat, Pinky.

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  2. 2. beckon 2:23 pm 12/10/2013

    This blog contains substantial errors. The Fijian monkey-faced bat is not “quite similar in appearance to…the Samoan flying fox” (compare Wikimedia Commons photos of the two species). It is very distinctive from the common, co-occuring species of flying fox (Pteropus samoensis and P. tonganus), which is why I instantly recognized it as “new” (though I was not an expert on bats) when I “discovered “ it in 1976 in rainforest on a mountain peak in Fiji. I went on to co-author the original description of the species (Hill & Beckon 1978, Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology series Vol 34 No 2). So it is definitely not true that “it was not recognized as its own species until 2005.” Rather, it’s genus (which we originally identified as Pteralopex), was rearranged by K. M. Helgen in 2005 (Systematics and Biodiversity 3:433-453), creating a new endemic genus, Mirimiri, for this species, further recognizing its distinctiveness.

    The island of Taveuni, on which Ruth Beckon and I found this bat, is in Melanesia, not Polynesia.

    The blogger (John R. Platt) did not do adequate “homework” in writing this piece. However, he should be congratulated for bringing attention to this extremely rare species, which is probably even more endangered than his blog suggests.

    William Beckon

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  3. 3. John R. Platt in reply to John R. Platt 3:43 pm 12/10/2013

    Thanks for your comments, William, and for discovering this species in the first place. I apologize for misinterpreting some of what I read on this bat and have made some edits to the above article.

    Link to this
  4. 4. BloodyVamp 3:42 am 01/7/2014

    i now know what type of bat i saw as a child it scared me to death it was in our house and just staring at me

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