Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Still Not a Shark ...

Giant rat species found in Papua forest

By Nick Squires in Sydney
Last Updated: 12:01pm GMT 17/12/2007

The huge rat - about five times as large as a sewer rat - had no fear of people and regularly wandered into a camp set up by scientists in the remote region of Papua, the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea.

Dr Ucok holds this 1.4 kg giant rat that is probably a new species
The 1.4 kg giant rat that is probably a new species

In contrast, the Cercartetus possum was shy and ranks as one of the world's smallest marsupials.

Both creatures were found by scientists from the US-based group Conservation International and the Indonesian Institute of Science, which led an expedition to the Foja mountains of eastern Papua in June.

It is extremely rare to discover new species of mammal, particularly one as large as the Mallomys rat.

"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."

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