Thursday, April 14, 2005

New species of rodent found in Zambales


A new species of unusual tweezer-beaked rodent has been discovered on a mountain in Zambales, a National Museum official said Wednesday.

Weighing 140 grams (five ounces) and sporting a long snout with tiny teeth, the gray rodent found atop Mount Tapulao belongs to the Rhynchomys family, more commonly called tweezer-beaks, which is endemic to Luzon.

Two other tweezer-beak species of rodents are known to exist in Luzon, one in the Cordillera mountain range in the north and the other on Mount Isarog in the Bicol peninsula, Josefa Veluz of the museum’s zoology department told Agence France-Presse.

The Mount Tapulao mammal, which is known to eat earthworms, was found last January by a joint US-Filipino research team during a biodiversity survey of small mammals in Zambales.

A sample of the newly discovered species will be sent to the United States for further study at Chicago’s field museum, Veluz said. It will be scientifically described and named in a scientific publication next year, she added.

Danilo Balete, leader of the expedition, said the discovery of the new species at the site of a former chromite mine on Tapulao “was a great surprise, since the other tweezer-beaks occur a long way away, and live only in very high mountains.” Tapulao is 2,000 meters high.

Balete said Tapulao, which has not been thoroughly surveyed for biodiversity, has also yielded at least nine species of small mammals, including Apomys (forest mice), Chrotomys (striped earth mice), shrews “plus some very interesting bats that live only on Luzon Island

No comments: