Griffin's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini)

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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat, close up of head

Top facts

  • Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat was first discovered in 2012 and so far is known only from Vietnam.
  • Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has a peculiar-looking fleshy noseleaf which may help to focus its echolocation calls.
  • Unlike many other bats, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat emits its echolocation calls through its nose rather than through its open mouth.
  • The male Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has a fleshy outgrowth and a structure known as a ‘sexual sac’ behind its noseleaf.
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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat fact file

Griffin's leaf-nosed bat description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderChiroptera
FamilyHipposideridae
GenusHipposideros (1)

First described as recently as 2012, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini) is an unusual-looking bat species with an elaborate outgrowth of skin on its nose (1). Known as a noseleaf, this peculiar structure consists of several fleshy parts (1) and may aid in echolocation (2) (3).

The fur of Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat ranges from brown to grey, with the fur on the underside of the body being slightly paler (1). This species has relatively small eyes, and its ears are quite large and lack a tragus (2) (3). The ears are triangular in shape and have bluntly pointed tips (1). The male Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is slightly smaller than the female (1), and also differs in possessing a well-developed fleshy outgrowth and a ‘sexual sac’ behind the noseleaf. This sac is enlarged during the breeding season and secretes a waxy substance (1) (2).

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is a particularly large Hipposideros species (1), and can be distinguished from other members of the genus within its range by a combination of its body size, noseleaf structure and echolocation calls (1) (4). Although similar in appearance to the closely related great Himalayan leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros armiger), Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is smaller and has distinctly higher-pitched echolocation calls (1).

It was the frequency of its calls that first suggested to scientists that Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat was a distinct species, and it was named after the late Professor Donald Griffin in recognition of his contributions to bat echolocation research (1).

Size
Forearm length: 8.3 - 9 cm (1)
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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat biology

Little information is currently available on the biology of this newly discovered bat. However, male Griffin’s leaf-nosed bats have been recorded in breeding condition in August at Chu Mom Ray National Park (1).

In general, other members of the Hipposideros genus roost in hollow trees, caves or buildings. Some species are gregarious, occurring in large colonies, but others may be found alone or in small groups. Like other Hipposideros species, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat is likely to fly lower than most bats, and to feed on a variety of insects, such as beetles, termites, cockroaches and cicadas (2) (3).

Unlike many other bats, which emit their echolocation calls from the mouth, members of the Hipposideridae family (the Old World leaf-nosed bats) keep their mouth closed during flight, instead emitting the ultrasonic calls through their nostrils (2) (3). The calls are then focused by the complex structure of the noseleaf (3).

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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat range

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat was discovered in Vietnam, where it was originally known only from Cat Ba Island in northern Vietnam and Chu Mom Ray National Park on the mainland, around 1,000 kilometres to the south (1).

Since its initial discovery, Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has also been found in Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam, suggesting that the species has a more widespread distribution than first thought (4).

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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat habitat

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has been recorded in a variety of habitats, including both disturbed and primary forest. It has been found in lowlands as well as in mountainous and karst areas (1) (4).

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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat status

Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat threats

Very little is currently known about any potential threats to Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat. Although this species was originally recorded in just two widely separated locations, more recent studies suggest it may have a more extensive distribution than first thought (4).

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Griffin's leaf-nosed bat conservation

There are no specific conservation measures currently known to be in place for this odd-looking bat. However, the three locations in which Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat has so far been recorded are all national parks, which may offer this species some protection (1) (4).

Further studies are needed to determine the extent of the distribution of Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat, and to investigate whether it occurs in neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand (1).

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Find out more

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Echolocation
Detecting objects by reflected sound. Used by bats and odontocete cetaceans (toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises) for orientation and to detect and locate prey.
Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Karst formation
An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.
Noseleaf
A fleshy structure surrounding the nose, common to many bats. It is believed to function in focusing echolocation calls (high-pitched calls used in orientation and to locate prey) emitted from the nose.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Tragus
A soft cartilaginous projection extending in front of the external opening of the ear. In bats, it plays an important role in filtering returning echoes in echolocation.
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References

  1. Thong, V.D., Puechmaille, S.J., Denzinger, A., Dietz, C., Csorba, G., Bates, P.J.J., Teeling, E.C. and Schnitzler, H.-U. (2012) A new species of Hipposideros (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) from Vietnam. Journal of Mammalogy, 93(1): 1-11.
  2. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  3. Vaughan, T.A., Ryan, J.M. and Czaplewski, N.J. (2011) Mammalogy. Fifth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachusetts.
  4. Thong, V.D. (2012) New records of Griffin’s leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros griffini Thong et al. 2012) from Vietnam. Vietnam Journal of Biology, 34(3): 323-327.
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Image credit

Griffin's leaf-nosed bat, close up of head  
Griffin's leaf-nosed bat, close up of head

© Vu Dinh Thong

Vu Dinh Thong
Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources
Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology
18 Hoang Quoc Viet Road, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
Vietnam
thong@iebr.ac.vn

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