Giant rat and new marsupial amongst 40 new species discovered in Papua New Guinea07/09/2009 15:37:22 BBC film crew make discoveries in Papua New Guinea
September 2009. A new species of giant rat is one of 40 new species discovered on a recent expedition to a remote rainforest in Papua New Guinea. Weighing in at 1.5kg, and measuring 82cm from nose to tail, the Bosavi Woolly Rat is one of the biggest rats in the world - as big as a domestic cat.
The find was made in the crater of the extinct volcano Mount Bosavi while filming for the Lost Land Of The Volcano, the third in a series of BBC One expeditions to remote jungles. The crater is 4km wide with walls up to 1km high, trapping the creatures inside a lost world.
The rat is silvery grey and the name woolly is due to its dense fur. The animal's teeth suggest it has a largely vegetarian diet and probably builds nests in either tree hollows or underground. Dr Kristofer Helgen, Smithsonian biologist, and Gordon Buchanan, were first on the scene, when the rat was found by a tracker from the Kasua tribe that lives outside the crater.
Dr Helgen says: "This is the one of the world's largest rats. It is a true rat, related to the same kind you find in the city sewers, but a heck of a lot bigger.''
Gordon says: "I had a cat and it was about the same size of this rat. This rat was incredibly tame. It just sat next to me nibbling on a piece of leaf. It won't have seen a human being before. This crater of Mount Bosavi really is the lost world."
57 varieties of rats and mice in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is famous for the number and diversity of the rats and mice that inhabit the island. More than 57 species of true "Murid" rats and mice can be found on the tropical island.
Bosavi Silky Cuscus - Another major new find
Fanged frog & grunting fish amongst other new species
The team, led by climber and naturalist Steve Backshall, wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan and head scientist Dr George McGavin, explore little-known and unprotected parts of rainforest searching for new and barely known wildlife.