Bats from Lebanon at the Natural History Museum, Vienna: a cautionary tale on the reliability of museum specimen data (Chiroptera) [Netopýři z Libanonu v Přírodovědeckém museu ve Vídni: varovný příběh o nespolehlivosti údajů z musejních sbírek (Chiroptera
Simon Engelberger, Petr Benda
Seven historical bat specimens of four species (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, R. mehelyi, Taphozous nudiventris, Myotis myotis), attributed to originate from the territory of the present-day Lebanon, are deposited and documented in the modern database of the mammal collection of the Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien). Two of these species (R. mehelyi, T. nudiventris) have never been reported for Lebanon in the existing literature and recent surveys have also failed to find them in this country. Since these bats were collected in the period 1824–1885, the history of the all respective specimens was evaluated in detail. The revision brought rather unexpected results. Only one specimen (R. ferrumequinum) was found to come (most probably) from Lebanon, being collected by W. Hemprich and Ch. Ehrenberg in 1824. In the remaining six specimens, the origin could not be defined, thus rendering the statement that they were collected in Lebanon insecure. This case demonstrates that careful checks of modern interpretations of historical records are necessary when examining past distributions of organisms.