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Mystery Mammal Discovered In Borneo's Forests
New Scientist ^ | 12-6-2005 | Shaoni Bhattacharya

Posted on 12/06/2005 6:41:43 AM PST by blam

Mystery mammal discovered in Borneo’s forests

00:01 06 December 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Shaoni Bhattacharya

The new beast, with its dark red fur and long tail, could be a new species of marten or civet, or belong to a new group entirely (Image: Stephan Wulffraat, WWF) Experts are mystified by the new creature, with some saying it looks like a civet, and others say that it resembles a lemur (Image: Wahyu Gumelar/Stephan Wulffraat, WWF)

The mammal, which is slightly larger than a domestic cat, has dark red fur and a long, bushy tail. It was snapped twice at night by a camera trap set up by researchers from the conservation group WWF.

Its general shape – with a possibly pointed snout, small ears, and large powerful hind legs – suggests it is a meat-eater. It has some similarities with martens or civets and could belong to these groups, or it may belong to an entirely new group, says WWF.

“New species are always exciting, and new species of cuddly things are exciting,” says Nick Isaac, a research fellow at the Zoological Society of London, UK.

But he warns it may be difficult to establish whether the new find genuinely represents a new species, or just a variation on a known species. “My reservation is – is it a range extension, or a slightly different colour morph of something we know about?” he told New Scientist.

Hair or faeces “We showed the photos of the animal to locals who know the wildlife of the area, but nobody had ever seen this creature before,” says Stephan Wulffraat, a biologist coordinating WWF’s research on the new mystery mammal. “We also consulted several Bornean wildlife experts, s. Some thought it looked like a lemur, but most were convinced it was a carnivore.”

He says the only way to know for certain whether the strange mammal is a new species is to capture one. The team is attempting to capture snare a live animal using cage traps.

Isaac says that catching an animal is the ideal way to establish its true identity. However, in recent years taxonomists have been able to classify some new species, for example beetles, by using their DNA. “If you could get a hair from this thing or faeces then you could compare the DNA with close relatives,” he suggests.

A fur trap next to the camera trap might be able to betray the creature’s identity if it could snatch a hair from the root so its DNA-containing follicle could be used.

The use of camera traps has meant many new species are being discovered, says Isaac. Grids of cameras can be left on animal trails for weeks. And digital photography with good flashes means the technology has made it easier for modern scientists to make discoveries. “The Victorians didn’t have that luxury,” he adds.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: borneo; borneos; cryptobiology; cryptozoology; discovered; forests; godsgravesglyphs; mammal; mystery; newspecies

1 posted on 12/06/2005 6:41:43 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

2 posted on 12/06/2005 6:45:08 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: blam

That tail is almost as long as Nessie's neck.


3 posted on 12/06/2005 6:45:39 AM PST by NautiNurse (The greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy - Ramsey Clark)
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To: blam

4 posted on 12/06/2005 6:48:09 AM PST by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: blam

Amazing that our pollution-tainted world can produce more and more new species.

Wonder if we can interest anyone in species trading credits? You know, for every one that dies off if we find another one we are good to go?

I'd take this guy over the snail darter anyday.


5 posted on 12/06/2005 6:54:00 AM PST by VeniVidiVici (What? Me worry?)
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To: VeniVidiVici

I think it should be named the "Hildabeast".


6 posted on 12/06/2005 6:58:14 AM PST by FearlessFreep
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To: blam

A fur trap in conjunction with the camera BTTT


7 posted on 12/06/2005 7:06:22 AM PST by Cold Heart
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To: blam

I believe that all known lemur species live on Madagascar, so it would be hard to explain a lemur being found on Borneo. On the other hand, Madagascar was first settled by people from Borneo...maybe someone made a trip back home and took some lemurs back as pets.


8 posted on 12/06/2005 7:22:40 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: blam

Now we know where "mystery meat" come from!


9 posted on 12/06/2005 7:26:50 AM PST by SoCal Pubbie
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To: VeniVidiVici

Hmm..does naming rights go to the person who took the photo or the one who captures/kills the creature.


10 posted on 12/06/2005 7:27:52 AM PST by Liberfighter (A half truth is a whole lie)
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To: Cold Heart
A fur trap in conjunction with the camera BTTT

Kinda makes the mouth water, donit?

11 posted on 12/06/2005 7:36:25 AM PST by Lekker 1 ("Computers in the future may have only 1000 vacuum tubes..." - Popular Mechanics, March 1949)
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To: CarrotAndStick
New species
12 posted on 12/06/2005 7:58:49 AM PST by cloud8
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To: cloud8

Lol! Did you do that?


13 posted on 12/06/2005 8:02:52 AM PST by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: cloud8

14 posted on 12/06/2005 8:08:23 AM PST by mysterio
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To: CarrotAndStick

Al Gore found this new species years ago (just before he invented the internet)


15 posted on 12/06/2005 8:08:54 AM PST by mattfromva
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To: CarrotAndStick

> Did you do that?

Wish I had. The jackalope's been around for a while.


16 posted on 12/06/2005 8:25:01 AM PST by cloud8
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To: mysterio

17 posted on 12/06/2005 8:33:56 AM PST by cloud8
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To: Verginius Rufus
Madagascar was first settled by people from Borneo...maybe someone made a trip back home and took some lemurs back as pets.

That is possible considering human nature to having pets combined with homesickness.

18 posted on 12/06/2005 8:46:38 AM PST by Paul C. Jesup
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To: cloud8

19 posted on 12/06/2005 10:44:24 AM PST by mysterio
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To: mysterio

20 posted on 12/06/2005 10:59:03 AM PST by cloud8
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Note: this topic is from 12/06/2005. Thanks blam.

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21 posted on 06/24/2011 5:28:35 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Thanks Cincinna for this link -- http://www.friendsofitamar.org)
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