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Three new species of yellow-shouldered bats discovered in museum collections
Date:4/14/2014

specimen. They then amplified and sequenced two nuclear and three mitochondrial genes from each tissue, amounting to nearly 5,000 base pairs of DNA, from over 120 individuals.

"We chose these genes because they have proven useful for classification of related groups of bats," said Velazco. "Mitochondrial sequences tend to be fast-evolving and informative about very recent evolutionary splits, while nuclear genes tend to be slow-evolving and shed light on more ancient divergence events."

By sequencing both classes of DNA, the researchers could recover the group's entire history, which stretches back about 8 million years.

Every museum specimen that was sequenced already had both a name and a geographic distribution. However, the sequence analysis led the investigators to believe that some of the branch labels were incorrect. Indeed, after re-examining the museum specimens associated with each sample, they found that nearly 20 percent of the specimens had been incorrectly labeled!

How could so many individual animals have been misidentified? The answer lies within technology.

"The differences between species are often subtle, and difficult to describe in writing. The historic literature lacked access to the visual documentation that we rely on today, such as color photography and digital libraries," said Patterson. "For this reason, small and imprecisely described morphological differences were often overlooked during the original identification of the specimens. This type of error pervades all biological collections."

Their results identified three species entirely new to science, and provided evidence for the elevation of three subspecies to the species level. Two of the new species are described in the ZooKeys article.

In the process, Velazco and Patterson were able to revise the supposed geographic range of Sturnira lilium. Instead of extending from Mexico to Arge
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Contact: Nancy O'Shea
noshea@fieldmuseum.org
312-665-7103
Field Museum
Source:Eurekalert

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