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Philippines: New mountain rodent species found

Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Chicago museum, said: "The unusual geological history of eastern Mindanao leads us to predict that additional species currently unknown to anyone except local residents are likely to live there."
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Feb 18, 2009
A new species of rat has been found on a mountain in the southern Philippines, the environment department said on Wednesday.

The Hamiguitan batomys, or hairy-tailed rat, is a yellow-brown rodent with a long furry tail.

Weighing about 175 grams (6.2 ounces), it lives 950 metres (3,117 feet) above sea level in the dwarf mossy forests of Mount Hamiguitan on Mindanao island.

It was discovered in a joint US-Filipino expedition in 2006 that involved experts from the Chicago-based Field Museum of Natural History, the Filipino government agency said in a statement.

The Hamiguitan batomys is related to several other species found in central Mindanao, neighbouring Dinagat island and the main Philippine island of Luzon.

But its natural habitat is an area of less than 10 square kilometres (3,861 square miles, the agency said.

Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Chicago museum, said: "The unusual geological history of eastern Mindanao leads us to predict that additional species currently unknown to anyone except local residents are likely to live there."

He said the team would continue to "find, formally describe and learn about the habitat needs of these species before logging, mining, or other human activities reduce their chances for survival".

Heaney said the Philippines "has one of the largest numbers of unique species of mammals of any place in the world. Over 125 mammal species live only in the Philippines."

Danilo Balete, the Filipino leader of the expedition, said the Hamiguitan batomys "is the first mammal to be described from eastern Mindanao, and is the first mammal that is thought to live only in that area."

This, he said, leads him to suspect that the mountain is "a biologically unique part of the Philippines".

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