Philippines finds new breed of flying fox

MANILA Sun Sep 16, 2007 11:52am EDT

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MANILA (Reuters) - A colourful new breed of flying fox with orange fur and three white stripes on its face has been discovered on the Philippine island of Mindoro, the government said on Sunday.

Flying foxes are a type of fruit bat. They are named flying foxes because of their fox-like heads and reddish fur.

The tropical archipelago in Southeast Asia is a treasure trove for flora and fauna. Last year, a brightly-plumed parrot and a long-tailed forest mouse were discovered in the vanishing rainforest of a southern volcanic island.

A team from the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the University of Kansas confirmed the flying fox discovery during an expedition to Mindoro, south of Manila, last year.

"A local resident of Sablayan (town) first described the flying fox in great detail to us, but we were unconvinced until the species showed up in our nets," said zoologist Jake Esselstyn.

The flying fox, which researchers believe could be unique to the Philippines, has been named the Mindoro Fruitbat.

The scientific description of the new flying fox was published in the Journal of Mammalogy.

"This discovery is illustrative of how little we know about Philippine biodiversity and the need for continued research all over the country," said Mundita Lim, chief of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the DENR.

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