Sunday, 22 September 2013

New spiny rat discovered in 'birthplace of evolution'

Tufts of harsh, bristly hair and a white tail tip are among the defining features of a new rodent species discovered in Indonesia.

The Spiny Boki Mekot Rat was found in the mountain forests of Halmahera, in the Moluccas (Maluku) archipelago.

It was from these islands that Alfred Russel Wallace wrote to Charles Darwin, outlining his theory of evolution.

The region is rich in biodiversity but its wildlife is under threat from logging and mining firms.

Scientists hope the new mammal discovery will encourage greater exploration and conservation of the area.

Their findings are reported in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Under threat
The new rat was found in a remote, hilly region of Halmahera by an expedition team from the University of Copenhagen and Indonesia's Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense.

They laid traps baited with roasted coconut and peanut butter, placed on tree trunks and at burrow openings.

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