ThinkingShift species watch
Let’s kick off 2008 with an overview of what’s happening with some of Earth’s spectacular and precious species.
First up is this giant rat – a new species found in Indonesia’s Papua province. During an expedition to Papua’s Foja Mountains (an area known as the ‘lost world’), scientists discovered a treasure trove, including a pygmy possum previously unknown to science and dozens of new plants and animals.
The rat is known as a Mallomys giant rat (no kidding, look at the size of it!) and is about five times the size of your average city rat. It had no fear and came waltzing into the scientists’ camp. Just hope said rat doesn’t make an appearance in my house too soon. Source: New Scientist. Image credit: ABC.
A mysterious mammal has been caught on film – check out the ears! It’s a long-eared jerboa, a small nocturnal animal that dwells in the desert areas of Mongolia and China. This little chap has been very elusive to scientists. It hops like a kangaroo and has hairs on its feet to help with hopping along the sand. During the day, jerboas hang around in underground tunnels. They are endangered due to habitat disturbance. How cute is he! Source: BBC News.
A 10-millimetre new frog has been discovered. The little critter was found under ferns and leaf litter in the steamy rainforest of the Western Ghats of Kerala, a mountainous region in western India. The frog has been given the name Nyctibatrachus minimus and is the smallest of all known land vertebrates in India. Apparently, he belts out a mating song from under the leaf litter during the monsoonal period. Source: Science Daily. Image Credit. Image courtesy of University of Delhi.
And for ThinkingShift’s international readers, a good news animal story from Australia. The Mogo Zoo on the south coast of New South Wales is the first zoo in the world to successfully rear a pride of five male white lion cubs. How cute are these fellows, affectionately called ‘the gangsters’. Apparently, producing a pride of five male white cubs is unique. The zoo specialises in endangered species and is now home to a 12-strong pride of big white cats.
All good news so far, but red squirrels in Scotland are in danger of going kaput. Scotland’s 121,000 red squirrels, which make up 75% of the country’s squirrel population, could die out within 50 years because their woodland habitats are being lost and they are being threatened by grey squirrels, which were brought to the UK from the US in the late 1800s. Grey squirrels out-compete the reds for food and they also carry and spread the deadly squirrel pox virus. Source: BBC News.