In a paper submitted by scientists from Indonesia, Australia and the United States to the Journal of Mammalogy, the scientists share their new discovery, a hog-nosed shrew rat they discovered from Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island.
“To Australians, Hyorhinomys, is a bit like a rat version of a bandicoot, with long hind limbs, huge ears and a long, pointed face flawless for slurping up invertebrate prey”, said a Museum Victoria researcher, Dr Kevin Rowe.
The hog-nosed rat is so genetically different from any other species that the research team described it as a new genus.
“Obviously its nostrils which resemble a hog’s, are very unique”. However, he said the use of such long hairs were still a matter of speculation. “Both males and females have those long public hairs, like whiskers”.
A hog-nosed shrew rat (Rodentia: Muridae) from Sulawesi Island, Indonesia Esselstyn et al. “It’s got a very narrow mouth opening”.
“We had never seen anything like this”, Esselstyn said, adding: “Our guides didn’t tell us right away that they had caught it”.
The rat, first discovered by scientists in 2013 in the remote mountain jungles on the island of Sulawesi, has been named Hyorhinomys stuempkei, or hog-nosed rat. It also lacks a jaw muscle attachment found in most mammals that helps with chewing food, suggesting it survives on a diet that does not require vigorous chewing.
The critter is usually around 45 centimetres (1.48 feet) in length, including the tail, and weighs about 250 grams (0.55 pounds).
“We had been setting up overnight traps for a few days – that was when I stumbled upon a completely new rat”, he said.
He said the rat’s uniqueness had “far exceeded expectations”.
The newly discovered mammal is related to group of other carnivorous rodents found on Sulawesi called “shrew rats”. “There will be many more discoveries coming out of Sulawesi by our team and others”, Rowe promised.