YODA the fruit bat has been given official recognition as a new species.

The flying mammal earned the nickname because of its unusual resemblance to the Star Wars Jedi Master. Now after extensive research, the bat – discovered in a remote Papua New Guinea rainforest – has been formally registered as a newly identified species.

Scientists have also re-christened it the Hamamas tube-nosed fruit bat after the Papuan word for “happy”.

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The bat has an enigmatic expression and a wide smile.

University of York biologist Dr Nancy Irwin, whose team studied some 3000 fruit bat specimens in 18 museums around the world, said: “Most of the morphological characteristics that separate this bat from other species are associated with a broader, rounder jaw which gives the appearance of a constant smile. Since most remote Papuans have never seen Star Wars, I thought it fitting to use a local name: the Hamamas – meaning happy – tube-nosed fruit bat.”

The bat’s scientific name, Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov. honours the conservationist Dr Deb Wright who devoted 20 years of her life to conservation in Papua New Guinea.

Like other members of the Nyctimene family the bat is characterised by its odd protruding tubular nostrils.