New Giant Rat, Pygmy Possum Discovered

huge rat

December 17, 2007Mammal expert Martua Sinaga holds a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) rat that may be a species new to science. The rat was found in the remote Foja Mountains of western New Guinea, Indonesia, on a June 2007 expedition, experts announced yesterday.

Researchers from Conservation International and the Indonesia Institute of Science had previously discovered several new species of plants and animals during a trip to the pristine rain forest region in 2005.

When the team returned to the Fojas this summer, they found the rat along with a pygmy possum that could also be a previously unrecorded species.

“The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat,” Kristofer Helgen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., said in a press statement. “With no fear of humans, it apparently came into the camp several times during the trip.”

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A pygmy possum of the genus Cercartetus was found this June in Indonesia's pristine Foja Mountains and could be a species new to science.

Experts with Conservation International described the mini-mammal as one of the world's smallest marsupials.

A previous expedition to the Fojas in 2005 had revealed for the first time that a rare forest marsupial, the golden-mantled tree kangaroo, made its home in the same remote region on the island of New Guinea. The kangaroo was among dozens of species of plants and animals discovered during that trip.

(source)

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