Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bizarre Horseshoe Bat Photographed for First Time

This bizarre-looking bat got rave reviews when it recently posed for the camera for the first time. Scientists found the twisted-faced creature, called the Maclaud's horseshoe bat, while surveying the highland forests of Guinea in West Africa this spring. German biologist Natalie Weber took this picture after finding 16 members of the species in a series of remote caves. The bat had never been photographed before and had not been seen in the wild in nearly 40 years. The Maclaud's bat is one of about 70 known species of horseshoe bats, so named for their distinctive—some might say grotesque—facial features called noseleafs. Scientists aren't certain what the skin flaps are for, but they're thought to aid in echolocation—the process bats use to navigate by emitting and receiving high-frequency sound waves.

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