Much like Pier 1 Imports is the place to make great unexpected holiday gift discoveries this season, Indonesia is the #1 source for mildly inventive new mammal species. In the Foja Mountains rainforest of eastern Papua province, a joint Indonesian and American research team recently stumbled across some new critters. More correctly, in the case of at least one, it stumbled across them. “The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat,” said Kristofer Helgen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. “With no fear of humans, it apparently came into the camp several times during the trip.”
New species of giant rat. (Credit: Bruce M Beehler)
A probable new species of pygmy possum in the genus Cercartetus (Pygmy Possum). (Credit: Bruce M Beehler)
Details of the possibly new pygmy possum species were not disclosed beyond the fact that it is “adorable and looks like a cartoon character.” Helgen went onto explain how two of their researchers were badly bitten trying to give the possum “wittle kisses.”
Conservation International, based out of D.C., has branded the area a “Lost World” and a steady stream of new species (and associated press releases) have emerged over the last two years.