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Scientists discover new species of giant rat

Posted on Wednesday, 27 September, 2017 | Comment icon 10 comments

The vika can grow up to half a meter in length. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Chris Barber
Known as the 'vika' rat, the new species has a set of teeth so powerful that it can crack open coconuts.
Native to the Solomon Islands, this elusive tree-dwelling species had been rumored to exist for years, but it wasn't until very recently that scientists were finally able to track down a live specimen.

"When I first met with the people from Vangunu Island in the Solomons, they told me about a rat native to the island that they called vika, which lived in the trees," said Dr Tyrone Lavery.

"I was excited because I had just started my PhD, and I'd read a lot of books about people who go on adventures and discover new species."

The hunt for the new rat would prove particularly challenging, leading Dr Lavery and his team to question whether this really was a new species at all.

It wasn't until one was spotted running from a felled tree that they realized it was the real deal.

"As soon as I examined the specimen, I knew it was something different," he said. "There are only eight known species of native rat from the Solomon Islands, and looking at the features on its skull, I could rule out a bunch of species right away."

Sadly though, despite excitement surrounding the discovery, the new species of rat is already endangered thanks to the ongoing deforestation of its remote island home.

"It's getting to the stage for this rat that, if we hadn't discovered it now, it might never have gotten discovered," said Dr Lavery.

"The area where it was found is one of the only places left with forest that hasn't been logged."

Source: Independent | Comments (10)

Tags: Vika, Rat

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Manfred von Dreidecker on 27 September, 2017, 10:26
It's not in Sumatra is it? Could the world be ready for it at last?Giant Rat of Sumatra
Comment icon #2 Posted by Nostrodumbass on 27 September, 2017, 12:13
Scientists discover possible new species of giant rat - said scientists capture and kill the rat to examine the skull - they discover it is a new species - they discover they killed the last one - look for new species - repeat
Comment icon #3 Posted by Rolci on 27 September, 2017, 12:59
I did not realise teeth can be "powerful". What does that even mean???
Comment icon #4 Posted by Still Waters on 27 September, 2017, 13:53
It means it has strong teeth.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Almighty Evan on 27 September, 2017, 14:22
R. O. U. S.'s? I don't think they exist. OR Good, my family's been expanding -- coot cobbler and possum stew just isn't enough anymore.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Nzo on 27 September, 2017, 16:49
I thought the article was about politicians.
Comment icon #7 Posted by pallidin on 27 September, 2017, 17:38
It chews through the coconut, it doesn't "crack-open" a coconut.
Comment icon #8 Posted by FateAmeniableToChange on 6 October, 2017, 15:12
It meant powerful bite as in lbs pressure per square inch based on examining its jaw structure,muscles etc
Comment icon #9 Posted by taniwha on 6 October, 2017, 16:40
Another thing for children to have nightmares over.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Rolci on 6 October, 2017, 19:10
How are teeth "strong"? Like, can a piece of rock be "strong"? "Hard" I would understand. But strong? That I would understand. Powerful bite, yes. Powerful / strong teeth, I am having a hard time with.

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