December 17, 2007
Mammal 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