Photo in the News: New Rodent Part of "Extinct" Family

Image: New rodent
Email to a Friend


March 9, 2006—Reports of their extinction have been greatly exaggerated.

Scientists believed the Diatomydae family of rodents had been extinct for 11 million years. But the recently discovered rodent species from Southeast Asia is actually one of this family's modern-day kin, according to a report to be published in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science.

First found by conservationists last year, the squirrel-like critter, seen in the above illustration, was presumed to be from a family unknown to science. Dubbed Laonastes aenigmamus, the animal was considered a "living fossil" that had split from other rodents many millions of years ago.

Although scientists have now traced the creature's actual place in the animal kingdom, little else is known about the elusive rodent. It was originally found for sale at a Laos (see map) food market, and so far no living specimens have been recovered.

According to the scientists, Laotians prefer to savor Laonastes roasted whole and served on a skewer.

—Victoria Gilman

See More Photos in the News
See Today's Top News Stories
Get Our Free Photo Newsletter

NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS




ADVERTISEMENT

 

50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.