Three new mammals discovered in remote forest

June 27, 2014 - 1:11:21 pm

Canberra: An Australian-led expedition says it has discovered three new mammal species in Papua New Guinea, releasing for the first time a picture of one of the animals — a diminutive wallaby — to Guardian Australia.

More than 40 camera traps were set up in two little-studied mountains in the remote Torricelli range, in north-east Papua New Guinea, during the four-month study.

The Docopsulus wallaby, a small marsupial, was captured on camera, as well as a “Dumbo” mouse with giant ears, and an antechinus, a sort of shrew-like marsupial.

Euan Ritchie, an ecologist at Deakin University in Melbourne, partnered with the Tenkile Conservation Alliance, a group headed by Australians Jim and Jean Thomas which is dedicated to protecting tree kangaroos, for the project. The study resulted in several rare tree kangaroos being photographed, as well as the three species which appear to be new to science.

Ritchie said the wallaby is about the size of a domesticated cat. “There are not that many truly small macropods, so it’s quite unusual,” he said. “But we don’t know much about their diet or behaviour, or how many they are. This is all very much frontier stuff.” Ritchie said a further expedition will look to capture the new species and take DNA samples to verify the findings.

The Guardian