Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Species Of Giant Rat Discovered In Papua New Guinea | September 8th 2009 | Think the New York subway system is home to the biggest rats around? Think again.
Scientists have discovered a new species of giant rat in the Papua New Guinea rainforest that measures 82 centimeters from tip to tail and weighs about 3.3 pounds -- roughly the size of a small dog or cat.

The discovery was made by a team from the BBC Natural History Unit inside the crater of the extinct Mount Bosavi volcano, CNN reports. The team included crew for the BBC documentary "Lost Land of the Volcano."

The rat is tentatively named the Bosavi woolly rat and is thought to belong to the Mallomys, a genus which includes the largest living species of rodents.

"This is one of the world's largest rats. It's a true rat, the same kind you find in the city sewers," Kristofer Helgen, a biologist from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and a member of the expedition team, told CNN.

"I had never seen anything like it in my life – at first glance more like a beaver than a rat," Steve Greenwood, a producer of "Lost Land of the Volcano," writes in a first-person piece for the Guardian. "It sat quietly in camp, chewing on a fern and wondering what all the fuss was about as we rushed around him filming and taking photographs."

"To be holding an animal totally new to science – that's one of the special moments in my life," Greenwood writes.

Scientists say they have discovered "more than 30" new species on the expedition, George McGavin, research associate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, told CNN. These include 16 new frog species, a new bat species and at least three new fish in addition to the rat, he said. (Nino Guevara Ruwano)


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