An unusual breed of fruit bat – previously nicknamed ‘Yoda’ due to its resemblance to the Star Wars Jedi Master – has now officially been registered as a new species and renamed the happy (Hamamas) tube-nosed fruit bat.

Discovered in a remote rainforest of Papua New Guinea, the bat’s unusual features immediately saw it affectionately referred to as the ‘Yoda bat’.

However, after thorough research examining literature and some 3,000 specimens in 18 museums around the world, a University of York researcher has now formally distinguished and registered the new species.

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Dr. Nancy Irwin, an Honorary Research Fellow in York’s Department of Biology, explains: “The species is very difficult to tell apart from other tube-nosed bat species. Bat species often look similar to each other, but differ significantly in behavior, feeding, and history.

“Most of the morphological characteristics that separate this bat from other species are associated with a broader, rounder jaw which gives the appearance of a constant smile.

“Since most remote Papuans have never seen Star Wars, I thought it fitting to use a local name: the Hamamas – meaning happy – tube-nosed fruit bat.”

The happy tube-nosed fruit bat’s formal name, Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov., is named after the conservationist Dr. Deb Wright, who devoted 20 years to building conservation programs and long-term scientific capacity in Papua New Guinea.

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