By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online
A team of scientists has discovered a new species of rat in Indonesia. The species, which has been named Hyorhinomys Stuempkei – or hog-nosed, has “distinct and unique features uncommon to other rats”, scientists said.
The rodent was discovered on Sulawesi Island earlier in January by researchers from Australia, Indonesia and the US. Museum Victoria’s mammal curator, Kevin Rowe, said the species was “previously not documented”.
Rowe, who specialises in rodent evolution, says “nothing is currently known about these rats an how widely they were distributed throughout the forests.”
He spent six weeks in Indonesia with other scientists and a group of locals trying to reach remote forest areas.
“We had been setting up overnight traps for a few days – that was when we stumbled upon a completely new rat,” he said.
Some of the rat’s characteristic features include large ears, lower teeth, a long tail and of course, its unique hog-like nostrils.
“I hollered immediately for my colleagues as I knew it was a new species.”
The rats appeared “healthy, with full stomachs”, weighing an estimated 250g.
Rowe also added that there were rats on Sulawesi Island similar to the newly discovered mammal, “but they weren’t the same.”
“Last year we discovered amphibious and toothless rats on the island too. There is a remarkable morphological evolution going on there.”
He said the rat’s uniqueness had “far exceeded expectations”. “Obviously its nostrils which resemble a hog’s are very unique. But it also has a long face and larger ears for a rat of its size and lower teeth which are more in common with shrew rats,” he said.
“It also has pubic hairs that are very long and extended which we see in other Australian mammals. The rats have since been preserved and are lodged in a museum in Indonesia.