June 26, 2009—Caught during a steamy moment in a lava tunnel in 2006, these two apparently mating bats—members of a new species—are each no bigger than a human thumb, scientists reported June 24.
Subsequent genetic tests revealed that the bat is also found on the west coast of the island of Madagascar, said study team member Manuel Ruedi, a curator at the Natural History Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.
Since neighboring Madagascar is much older than the Comoros (regional map), the team suspects that the moth-size mammal lived on Madagascar before migrating to the Indian Ocean archipelago in the distant past. (Related: "Hurricanes Blow Away Bats, Spread Genes to New Islands.")
Bat diversity in both the Comoros and Madagascar has been poorly studied, Ruedi said. But the latest genetic-testing technology makes it easy to distinguish between bat species that can look very similar, he added.
As for the amorous image above, Ruedi said mating bats are a rare catch, "especially when it involves an unknown species!"