The amazing announcement today that a new bat species has been discovered in England just goes to show how possible it is to know so little. Further details and a good photo are on the Bat Conservation Trust web site here and the Leeds University site here.
Alcathoe's Bat was first described and named as a new species in Greece in 2001 and it turns out that it has almost certainly been here all along and right under our very noses. The trouble with British bats is that apart from one or two really distinctive ones they all look pretty much like little brown furry jobs but it is rather amazing that bat workers all over the UK have just not picked this one up. Apparently it is very similar to two other species - Whiskered and Brandt's bats - and to be honest, even experienced bat workers struggle to separate these two sometimes. Since I first got hooked on bats in the mid 80s I've handled umpteen whiskered/brandts and now I'm left wondering just how many of those were actually Alcathoe's bat.
Ah well, back to the drawing board - oh, and I must find out how to pronounce Alcathoe.....
(For more Bits on Bats click on the 'bats' link in my subject index on the right.)