Scientists said the discovery could help to better understand the pandemic.
The virus that causes the current coronavirus pandemic has its origins in pangolins and bats. Four new species of bats, similar to those causing the pandemic, have been found in Africa. At present, little information is available on these new species.
AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID PANDEMIC-19
Researchers have discovered four new species of leaf-nosed bats. These new species in the family Hipposideridae are cousins of the Greater horseshoe bat, which are believed to be hosts for the virus that causes Covid-19. According to the scientist, this discovery, published in the journal ZooKeys, is of particular importance in the Covid-19 era. Indeed, knowing more about these new species could reveal important information about their coronavirus-carrying cousins.
This could even help scientists prepare for future epidemics from the animal world. “Leaf-nosed bats carry coronavirus – not the strain that affects humans now, but this is certainly not the last time a virus will be transmitted from a wild mammal to humans,” Terry Demos, a Field Museum researcher and lead author of the article, said in a news release. “If we have a better understanding of what these bats are, we’ll be better prepared if that happens,” he added. The coronavirus is not the first disease to originate in bats.
While bats are essential to the ecosystem for their role as pollinators, they are also mammals capable of transmitting many diseases to humans, since they are very social animals that live in very large groups in which viruses spread rapidly. In any case, scientists have made it clear that bats can only transmit diseases to humans if they are approached knowingly. “Unless you try to look for bats, either to harass or kill them, bats are very, very unlikely to infect you. These bats have a place in nature and perform essential ecological functions, and we can’t let our terror of coronavirus lead us to destroy natural ecological systems,” Demos said.
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NEW SPECIES OF BATS THAT CURRENTLY HAVE NO NAMES
Given the current context, scientists have not yet gathered enough information on the four new species to be able to give them their scientific names. For the time being, they are just referred to as leaf-nosed bats. They get their name from the flaps of skin on their faces that help them catch insects and serve as radar dishes for their echolocation calls. All four species have been identified by scientists through genetic analysis. The specimens were all examined at the Field Museum, but had been collected in Africa.
Specifically, they were captured with the collaboration of scientists from Maasai Mara University and the National Museum of Kenya. It should also be noted that other species of the same family to which these new species belong can be found throughout Asia and Australasia. The little information we have on these four new species shows once again how mysterious bats are. Of the 1400 species of bats that exist worldwide, only 25% have been recognized by scientists in the last 15 years.
Source : Geo