Scientists say Vietnam's elusive bat species never existed

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 The only specimen of a bat species believed to only live in Vietnam and has been searched by scientists for decades

A group of Vietnamese and foreign scientists have concluded that a bat species found and identified more than 60 years ago has never existed in the country.

The VnExpress newswire  reported Friday that the group feels French scientists failed to conduct a careful study when announcing the Vietnamese Leaf-nosed bat (Paracoelops megalotis) as a new species in 1947. The annoucement was based on a bat found in the central province of Nghe An two years before, and has since been searched by scientists without success.

They said the specimen, prepared by André David-Beaulieu from a bat he collected in the province's Vinh Town was not complete, as its tail had been removed during the process.

Later, based on the specimen, Jean Dorst, then director of the French National Museum of Natural History, gave an incorrect description of the species when announcing it, the VnExpress reported, citing  findings by Dr. Vu Dinh Thong of the Hanoi-based Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources and his partners.

Dorst identified it as belonging to the family Hipposideridae. He said while it looked quite similar to the genus Coelops due to the absence of tail, its tail membrane was more developed.

However, Thong and his partners found that the specimen had characteristics and measurements identical to those of Pomona Leaf-nosed Bat (Hipposideros Pomona), which was common in Vietnam and other countries like Myanmar.

According to the news report, the Vietnamese scientist visited the French museum two years ago to check the specimen in an attempt to solve the mystery around the species, once categorized as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The latest conclusion was reached after collaboration with scientists from France, Germany, Ireland and the UK. It was presented in the international journal Zootaxa on October 3.

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