Science has identified more than two million species on Earth, but researchers estimate there are millions more left to discover.
Today, there’s a new rodent in town thanks to some adventurous Australian scientists.
Museum Victoria researchers and an international scientific team discovered the Slender Rat (Gracilimus radix) on Mount Gandangdewata on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia.
Interestingly, the new rat has such a distinct anatomy that it’s not only a new species, but a new genus.
"The differences between Gracilimus radix and its closest relative, the water rat, Waiomys mamasae, are astounding; one has evolved for swimming and one for life on land, yet in evolutionary terms they are sisters,” said Dr. Kevin Rowe from Museum Victoria.
The Slender Rat marks the fourth new species discovered on Mount Gandangdewata by the team. Last year, the team discovered a new rat with extra-long pubic hair.
Despite the high biodiversity in the area, the Indonesian government has yet to implement formal protections for Mount Gandangdewata.
“Sulawesi Island is a global biodiversity hotspot and the location of this discovery, Mount Gandangdewata, is one of the hottest areas for diversity on Sulawesi. It contains the largest continuous tract of old-growth forest left on the island which is home to at least 27 species of rodent – twice what we see elsewhere on the island,” said Dr. Rowe.
“Our discoveries of rodent species are a strong indication of the exceptional diversity of plants and animals preserved in the forests of Gandangdewata, many of which remain unknown to science.”
[Images: Dr. Kevin Rowe, Museum Victoria]