Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Giant Rat, Tiny Possum Discovered in Indonesian Jungle

Researchers in a remote jungle in Indonesia have discovered a giant rat and a tiny possum that are apparently new to science, underscoring the stunning biodiversity of the Southeast Asian nation, scientists announced Monday.

The discoveries by a team of American and Indonesian scientists are being studied further to confirm their status as newfound species.

The animals were found during a June expedition in the Foja-mountain rain forest in eastern Papua province, said U.S.-based Conservation International (CI), which organized the trip along with the Indonesian Institute of Science.

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

The possum was described as "one of the worlds smallest marsupials."

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