Researchers discover giant rat, tiny possum in Indonesia - Tourism Indonesia


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Researchers discover giant rat, tiny possum in Indonesia

Researchers in a remote jungle in Indonesia have discovered a giant rat and a tiny possum that are apparently new to science, underscoring the stunning biodiversity of the Southeast Asian nation, scientists said today.

Unearthing new species of mammals in the 21st century is considered very rare. The discoveries by a team of American and Indonesian scientists are being studied further to confirm their status.

The animals were found in the Foja mountains rainforest in eastern Papua province in a June expedition, said U.S.-based Conservation International, which organized the trip along with the Indonesian Institute of Science.

"The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat," said Kristofer Helgen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "With no fear of humans, it apparently came into the camp several times during the trip."

The possum was described as "one of the worlds smallest marsupials."

A 2006 expedition to the same stretch of jungle — dubbed by Conservation International as a "Lost World" because until then humans had rarely visited it — unearthed scores of exotic new species of palms, butterflies and palms.

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