AboutZoos, Since 2008


New mam­mal (a rodent) dis­cov­ered in Indonesia

pub­lished 24 July 2012 | mod­i­fied 05 Decem­ber 2012

Researchers have dis­cov­ered a new species of rodent in Indonesia’s Mekongga Moun­tains, reports the Jakarta Globe. The new rodent, Christine’s Mar­gareta rat (Mar­gare­tamys christi­nae), is only the fourth in the genus Mar­gare­tamy, all of which are found on the island of Sulawesi.

Margaretamys christinaeThis new species was found dur­ing an expe­di­tion from Decem­ber 2010 to March 2011 [and just now reported for the first time, –Moos-].

Mine [expe­di­tion] was one of the few mam­ma­log­i­cal expe­di­tions in the Mekongga moun­tains since 1932
Alessio Mortel­liti »

The new mammal’s dis­cov­erer, Alessio Mortel­liti with Sapienza Uni­ver­sity, told the Globe that the new species dif­fers from its rel­a­tives by its smaller size, the white tip of its tail, and its habi­tat in high alti­tudes. Mortel­liti named the new species after his girl­friend who accom­pa­nied him on the expedition.

“I strongly believe that it is very likely that sev­eral other undis­cov­ered species may be present in the area, includ­ing other Mar­gare­tamys species,” Mortel­liti told the Globe.

Of the other three Mar­gare­tamy species, one is listed as Vul­ner­a­ble by the IUCN Red List, a sec­ond Near Threat­ened, and a third Data Defi­cient due to a lack of infor­ma­tion. Defor­esta­tion for agri­cul­ture is the pri­mary threat. Around 80 per­cent of Sulawesi’s for­est have been lost or degraded. As for Christine’s Mar­gareta rat, it may be imper­iled as well.

These are all for­est species, so are threat­ened by habi­tat loss and frag­men­ta­tion. The Mekongga moun­tain range is threat­ened by log­ging and by expan­sion of cocoa plan­ta­tions. The estab­lish­ment of a pro­tected area will surely help to con­serve these rare endemic species
(Alessio Mortel­liti)

On his expe­di­tion Mortel­liti was also able to find the secre­tive dwarf squir­rel (Prosci­uril­lus abstrusus) and Dollman’s spiny rat (Max­omys doll­mani), both con­sid­ered Data Defi­cient accord­ing the IUCN Red List standards.

The dis­cov­ery of new mam­mals is quite rare. For exam­ple in 2009, sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered 19,232 new species, how­ever only 42 — or 0.2 per­cent — of these were mammals.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at Mongabay. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Source: Mongabay, 24.07.2012, the Jakarta Globe, 20.07.2012)

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