Wednesday, 4 October 2017

New species of giant rat discovered on the Solomon Islands

28 September 2017

A new species of rat, four times larger than regular rodents, has been discovered on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The creature, stretching almost half a metre (19in) in length, lives among the trees and survives on nuts that it cracks open with its teeth.

The Solomons are already home to eight other species of rat, but this is the first new discovery in 80 years.

The new variety, named Uromys vika, has long been spoken of in island folklore.
Hidden in trees

Located about 1,800km (1,100 miles) off the coast of Australia, the chain of islands that make up the Solomons is biologically isolated.

Most of the mammals that live there are found nowhere else on Earth.

"When I first met with the people from Vangunu Island in the Solomons, they told me about a rat native to the island that they called vika, which lived in the trees," said Tyrone Lavery, a researcher at the Field Museum, in Chicago, who made the discovery.

Despite searching for the creature since 2010, Dr Lavery failed to turn up any evidence of the big rat, apart from large droppings.

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