A strikingly unusual animal was recently discovered in the cloud-forests of Peru. The large rodent is about the size of a squirrel and looks a bit like one, except its closest relatives are spiny rats.
The nocturnal, climbing rodent is beautiful yet strange looking, with long dense fur, a broad blocky head, and thickly furred tail. A blackish crest of fur on the crown, nape and shoulders add to its distinctive appearance.
Isothrix barbarabrownae, as the new species has been named, is described in the current issue of Mastozoología Neotropical (Neotropical mammalogy), the principal mammalogy journal of South America. A color illustration of the bushy rodent graces the cover of the journal. It and another color illustration of the new species are both available to the media.
The authors of the study found the rodent in 1999 while conducting field research in Peru's Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve Mountains in Southern Peru along the eastern slope of the Andes. Extending from lowland tropical forests in the Amazon Basin to open grasslands above the Andean tree line, Manu is home to more species of mammals and birds than any equivalently sized area in the world.
"Like other tropical mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas, Ruwenzoris, Virungas and Kinabalu, the Andes support a fantastic variety of habitats," said Bruce Patterson, MacArthur Curator of Mammals at The Field Museum. "These in turn support some of the richest faunas on the planet."
The new rodent was discovered at an altitude of 6,200 feet. Little is known about its lifestyle because subsequent efforts to locate and observe the animal were fruitless.
I. barbarabrownae belongs to a family of rodents known as "spiny rats" because most of the species in that family bristle with spines. Its discovery has necessitated a re-examination of this tropical American family, especially its closest relatives, the bush-tailed tree rats found in South America's lowlands. As a result of the recent discovery, the authors have used The Field Museum's Pritzker Lab for Molecular Systematics and Evolution to resolve the evolutionary relationships among all of these rodents.
"The new species is not only a handsome novelty," Patterson said. "Preliminary DNA analyses suggest that its nearest relatives, all restricted to the lowlands, may have arisen from Andean ancestors. The newly discovered species casts a striking new light on the evolution of an entire group of arboreal rodents."
Paul Velazco, the other author of this paper, is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and student-in-residence at The Field Museum. The new species is named after Barbara E. Brown, who has worked at The Field Museum since 1970.
Broader work published in Fieldiana
The work of the international field research team that found I. barbarabrownae stretched over three seasons (1999-2001) and resulted in the discovery of 11 additional species new to science in a single river valley: 1 opossum, 7 bats, and 3 rodents. In November 2006, a synopsis of the entire project was published in Fieldiana: Zoology, a scientific publication of The Field Museum. The article is called "Mammals and Birds of the Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru." It lists 222 species of mammals, 94 of which are bats, and 1,005 species of birds, twice the number of bird species breeding in the United States and Canada combined.
"Students from San Marcos University in Lima made up two-thirds of the team collecting mammals, birds, and their parasites," Patterson said. "Peruvian students have described most of the new species while pursuing graduate studies overseas. Manu trainees are now enrolled in universities in Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Mexico and the United Kingdom." The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Museo de Historia Natural at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, and The Field Museum.
Greg Borzo | EurekAlert!
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Life Sciences
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences