Two New Species of Mammal Discovered

The Foja Mountains have been the subject of investigation for a couple of years now, and new species are being found there on a regular basis. The lastest, from last June, is the discovery of a possum and a rat.

The Foja Mountains are in Paupa, Indonesia, and form part of the norther ridge of the central mountain range on this large island. There are no records of visitors to this remote area prior to the late 1970s. In december, 2005, a joint international team of scientists bean documenting plants and animals in the area, and subsequently there have been reports of at lease one new bird species, twenty frogs, four butterflies, and a range of plants.

“During the June expedition, the team documented two mammals, a Cercartetus pygmy possum, one of the world’s smallest marsupials, and a Mallomys giant rat, both currently under study and apparently new to science,” CI said.

The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat and visited the scientists’ camp several times, lacking any fear of humans.

It’s nice when your data just shows up…

sources: This news report and this wikipedia piece.


  1. #1 nn
    December 17, 2007

    How do they study these new critters? And how is the type recorded
    officially? Do they take DNA samples? Or just photos?

    I hope it does not involve killing or harming them anymore
    like it used to be.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2007

    Normally, in the old days, you would want to kill a few of them to dissect them, put them in jars, etc. but I think these days that is done less and less. You can get DNA from hair follicles extracted from feces or from nesting sites or lay-up areas. For an animal that is numerous enough you can find skeletal material. You can dart them and get lots of samples, or for the little rat-like things, live trap them and maybe even keep them in an enclosure for a while.

    I don’t know what they are doing in this case.

  3. #3 the real Smokey Honey Eater
    December 18, 2007

    Smokey Honeyeater,and a really cool bower bird that builds four foot tall nests!
    There was a show that featured this on PBS Sunday–did you catch that large black bird that uses only stumps to perch on, and has the coolest feathered mating display?