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Adorable Bat, I Am!

Though not new to science, this tube-nosed fruit bat remains undescribed. The bat was spotted by Rapid Assessment Program researchers in the Muller Range mountains and has also been observed in other parts of Papua New Guinea. The animal is a member of the genus Nyctimene, but doesn’t yet have a species name. Like other fruit bats, this one is likely an important seed disperser in tropical forests. (Image credit: © Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International.)

A fruit bat documented by the researchers who announced the discovery of 200 new species in the forests of Papua New Guinea this week is making the rounds on the Internet for an unusual reason.

Looks like Yoda, he does.

The tube-nosed fruit bat's pointy ears and wise eyes remind some of the diminutive-yet-powerful Jedi master from George Lucas' "Star Wars" movies. Perhaps that's fitting, because the small bat likely plays an important role in dispersing seeds in the forest, according to Conservation International, which organized the forest expeditions.

The bat's back story is as mysterious as Yoda's. The animal had been seen before the 2009 expeditions, but scientists know little about it. They know the bat is part of the genus Nyctimene, but the species is as yet unnamed.

Though they can't be sure about the Yoda bat, researchers have discovered a curious behavior in other fruit bats: They enjoy fellatio, a finding which netted its discoverers a 2010 Ig Nobel Prize.

While plenty of news outlets have jumped on the Yoda-bat bandwagon, not everyone is buying the bat as Yoda's look-alike.

"That bat looks nothing like Yoda," wrote a blogger at, who added, "I've seen cats that look more like Yoda."

Other possible bat look-alikes suggested by commenters on that post include Falkor, the dragon from "The Neverending Story" and Splinter, the anthropomorphic rat from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Anyone else see the resemblance?

Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.