The most obvious trait of the Yoda bat is its uncanny resemblance to the Star Wars character it was named after. Once you get beyond its strange appearance, however, this species possesses a whole host of other interesting features and behaviors. Discovered in 2011, there’s still a lot to learn about this creature.
The Yoda bat is native to Papua New Guinea, and more specifically to a rainforest region that is so diverse, scientists discovered an average of three new species per week in 2010. The ecosystem of the Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges is home to a large range of recently discovered species because it is extremely remote and only accessible by helicopters. Scientists and conservationists are stressing the importance of preserving this region in order to protect species like the Yoda bat.
Part of the genus Nyctimene, the Yoda bat has a tubular nose, pointy ears and proportionally large eyes. Although the discovery of many new species was announced at the same time, the Yoda bat has garnered the most attention because of its resemblance to the famed Jedi master of the Star Wars universe. Others claim that it resembles Splinter, a heroic rat from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, while still other pop culture enthusiasts have likened it to Falkor, the dragon in The Neverending Story movie.
Not much is currently known about the Yoda bat’s diet, but scientists do know that it eats certain types of fruits because they disperse seeds. This makes the bat an important part of its ecosystem because it allows for the proliferation of different varieties of fruits in its rainforest region. In the future, more research will likely determine whether the bat eats only fruit or whether it is omnivorous.
As is the case with the Yoda bat’s diet, not much is known about the species’ behavior because scientists have not had long to observe it. Due to its remote location, the bat is not used to the presence of humans. It was sighted fleetingly on an expedition into the rainforest in 2009, but was not described until a 2011 expedition. Scientists suspect that like other fruit bats, the Yoda bat may be one of the few non-human species to enjoy sex. More research will reveal more about the Yoda bat in the future, although scientists are being careful not to disrupt the ecosystem of the Papua New Guinea rainforest.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images