New Giant Rat, Pygmy Possum Discovered

New species found in Indonesia
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December 17, 2007Mammal expert Martua Sinaga holds a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) rat that may be a species new to science. The rat was found in the remote Foja Mountains of western New Guinea, Indonesia, on a June 2007 expedition, experts announced yesterday.

Researchers from Conservation International and the Indonesia Institute of Science had previously discovered several new species of plants and animals during a trip to the pristine rain forest region in 2005.

When the team returned to the Fojas this summer, they found the rat along with a pygmy possum that could also be a previously unrecorded species.

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

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—Photograph by Bruce M. Beehler/Conservation International
 
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