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New rat species discovered in birthplace of 'theory of evolution'

Washington, Sept 22 : One hundred years after the death of Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, an international team of zoologists has discovered a new genus of mammal in the Halmahera Island in Indonesia.


A prominent tuft of spiny hair on the back, a white tail tip and three pairs of teats represent the unique set of characteristics describing a new genus of rat which has been discovered in the Moluccan province of Indonesia.

This region had a profound influence on the British Naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace who independently developed the theory of evolution alongside Charles Darwin.

The international team of zoologists was led by the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense in Indonesia and the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

The team was surprised to find the new endemic rodent close to the locality of Boki Mekot, a mountainous area under severe ecological threat due to mining and deforestation.

The species is only known in this locality and is named Halmaheramys bokimekot.

"This new rodent highlights the large amount of unknown biodiversity in this Wallacean region and the importance of its conservation. It constitutes a valuable addition to our knowledge of the Wallacean biodiversity and much remains to be learned about mammalian biodiversity across this region," Project leader Pierre-Henri Fabre from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, said.

"Zoologists must continue to explore this area in order to discover and describe new species in this highly diverse, but also threatened region," the researcher said.

Halmaheramys bokimekot is a terrestrial spiny rat of medium body size with brownish grey fur on its back and a greyish white belly.

Together with its other characteristics it represents a unique set of features that has never been reported before in the Moluccas.

The findings are published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean society.

--ANI (Posted on 22-09-2013)

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