10 Sep 2009

New Papua New Guinea rat gigantic cousin of city sewer variety

7:48 am on 10 September 2009

A rat the size of a cat discovered in the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea earlier this year is being described as an enormous relative of the common city sewer variety.

A BBC-sponsored exploration earlier this year to Mount Bosavi, an extinct volcano holding pristine rainforest in its four kilometre wide crater, came upon the rodent, which has yet to be given a scientific name.

The almost metre-long, one and a half kilogram rat with woolly fur was friendly to the scientists, which they attribute to the remoteness of its habitat.

A staff biologist with the Papua New Guinea Institute of Biological Research and one of the team that found the rat, Muse Opiang says his country is the place for naturalists to make their name.

"You come here, step outside the road, main road, walk into the remote area, and you'll come out smiling. It is the place to do research."

Muse Opiang says there are many more species of insects yet to be discovered in Papua New Guinea but new mammal finds are less likely.