New Species: 'Hog-Nosed Rat' Discovered in Indonesia [Video]
A new mammal species that posses features scientists have never seen before has been discovered in a remote mountainous area on the island of Sulawesi in central Indonesia. This new species – named a "hog-nosed rat" (Hyorhinomys stuempkei) – has several distinguishable features, including its prominent flat, pink nose with forward-facing nostrils that is very similar a pig's snout. The rodent is about the same size as a normal rat but has larger ears, a small mouth, long hind legs for hopping, and especially long white front teeth, the researchers noted.
"We had never seen anything like this. It was obviously a new species. We came back to camp and were both surprised that the other one had it as well," Jake Esselstyn, curator of mammals at Louisiana State University's Museum of Natural Science, said in a news release. Esselstyn worked alongside Kevin Rowe, a senior curator of mammals at Australia's Museum Victoria.
One surprising characteristic researchers noted was the rodents's lack of a jaw muscle attachment point called the coronoid process that is found in most mammals.
The lack of the coronoid process signifies that the animals have a weak jaw and are unable to vigorously chew their food, an indication that the hog-nosed rat's diet consists mainly of earthworms and beetle larvae they can slurp instead of chew.
"I don't know of any other rodents that have lost the coronoid process completely," Esselstyn explained.
The team that found the new species was composed of researchers from the U.S., Indonesia and Australia. It took them six weeks to reach the remote forest the hog-nosed rat calls home.
"I am still amazed that we can walk into a forest and find a new species of mammal that is so obviously different from any species... that has never been documented by science," Rowe said in a statement.
The findings were recently published in the Journal of Mammalogy.
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