Sunday, January 28, 2007
Joining the mammalian ranks from the cloud forests of Peru is a rather cute squirrel-sized mammal, Isothrix barbarabrownae. This nocturnal critter, related to the spiny rats, is described as medium brown with a much darker "crest" on the head and shoulders. It has a distinctive appearance, with a furry, white-tipped tail, a large head, and a long, thick coat. Bruce Patterson of the Field Museum says, "The new species is not only a handsome novelty. Preliminary DNA analyses suggest that its nearest relatives, all restricted to the lowlands, may have arisen from Andean ancestors. The newly discovered species casts a striking new light on the evolution of an entire group of arboreal rodents."