Andrea L. Cirranello and Nancy B. Simmons
Taxonomy – the discovery, description, and naming of organisms - is central to modern biology. Although many researchers assume that most mammal taxa are already known – and have been for decades – this is not necessarily true for small mammals including bats. Examination of patterns of taxonomic discovery over the last 200+ years reveals that we are currently in a taxonomic “Golden Age” for phyllostomid bats with more than 40 species discovered and described since 2001. Although the pace of discovery was slow throughout the 1700s, by 1850 representatives from 10 of the 11 subfamilies that we recognize today had been described, 22 genera had been named, and 39 phyllostomid species had been identified as specimen collections were amassed in European institutions. However, it was not until the early 1900s that a peak in descriptions occurred, with more than 20 species still considered valid described in the decade between 1901-1910. Most taxa described in the 19th and 20th centuries were described by scientists based in Europe, but research activity and descriptions of new taxa shifted to North American institutions between 1950 and 2000. Since 2001, the majority of published species descriptions have been authored or co-authored by researchers from Central and South American institutions. The latest surge in taxonomic discovery has been fueled by a focus on phylogeny and geography and new tools such as powerful computers, new molecular techniques, and data networks, although most new species descriptions continue to rely on morphological and morphometric data. Summarizing the current known diversity of Phyllostomidae, we here recognize 216 valid species in 60 genera and 11 subfamilies.