MEET the Nycticeinops schlieffenii bat – a new species of bat discovered in Africa.

Biologists from the University of York have joined other scientists in Senegal where they discovered five new species of bat.

During seven expeditions to the Niokolo-Koba National Park, and subsequent genetic analysis, the scientists discovered a wealth of unexpected diversity among Vesper bats.

They found five species of Vesper bats looked similar to other populations in Africa, but differed significantly genetically from them.

Nancy Irwin, of the department of biology at York, said: “The fact that these Senegalese bats are unrelated and are different to their cousins in other parts of Africa, suggests that West Africa may have been isolated in the past and formed a refugium, where populations gradually diverged and even acquired new chromosomal configurations.

“This exciting finding confirms that West Africa may represent an underestimated bio-geographic hotspot with many more species to discover.”

The team also included researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences and the Academy of Sciences, Charles University in the Czech Republic.

Taxonomists are now working on formally describing the new species.

Vesper bats or Vespertilionidae are already the largest family of bats with more than 400 known species.

The newly identified bats are called Pipistrellus hesperidus, Nycticeinops schlieffenii, Scotoecus hirundo, Neoromicia nana and Neoromicia somalica.

The findings of scientists have been published in Frontiers in Zoology.