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Studies on the Two New Zealand Bats



In 1843 Gray (in Dieffenbach, 1843a) prepared a faunal list for New Zealand. He referred, p. 181, to a bat, Vespertilio tuberculatus G. Forster of .the family Vespertilionidae, which he described as "Yellowish brown; ears small, rounded. Inhab. Dusky Bay, N.Z." In an appendix on page 296 of the same journal he stated that having received two specimens of the New Zealand bat he found it belonged to a new genus and accordingly described it as Mystacina tuberculata. He maintained this synonymy in the Catalogue of Mammalia in the British Museum (Gray, 1843b) and included the bat in the group Noctilionina.

Had Gray been able to examine Forster's Vespertilio tuberculatus he would have realised that his animal was distinct. It remained, however, for Tomes (1857) to show that there were, in fact, two New Zealand bats. Tomes included Gray's bat in the family Noctilionina describing it as Mystacina tuberculata Gray. Later Tomes (1863) referred Mystacina to the family Phyllostomidae but Gray (1866) again considered it with the Noctilionidae (equals Noctilionina of Tomes, 1857). Hutton (1872) indicated the confusion apparent in having equivalent trivial names for the two New Zealand bats and proposed that the name Mystacina velutina be adopted in reference to the velvet-like nature of the fur of the short-tailed bat.

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Dobson (1875) considered Mystacina tuberculata to belong to the family Emballonuridae, but to differ from typical members of that family in possessing a third phalanx in the middle finger, a feature which he described for the American Phyllostomidae. He separated Mystacina as a group Mystacinae (subfamily Molossinae) of the above family.

Lydekker (in Flower and Lydekker, 1891) claimed that Mystacina Gray was preoccupied by Mystacina Boie, 1822* and proposed instead the name Mystacops tuberculatus (Gray). His change was generally adopted. Winge (1892) referred Mystacina to the Vespertilionidae. Thomas (1905) suggested that since Gray's first reference (in Dieffenbach, 1843a) to New Zealand bats included the first published indication of Vespertilio tuberculatus this made Gray the author of that name and at once invalidated Gray's own name for the short-tailed bat. On these grounds he reinstated Hutton's name of 1872 and called the bat Mystacops velutinus (Hutton). Miller (1907) did not accept these conclusions. He retained the proposal of Lydekker and considered the bat as the sole representative of a new family, Mystacopidae. Simpson (1945) resurrected the original generic name and attributed authorship to Gray. His family Mystacinidae is equivalent to Miller's Mystacopidae.

* Neave (1939) gives "Mystacinus Boie, 1822, Isis (Oken), 1822, 556---Aves." Hence not a homonym of Mystacina Gray.