September 7, 2009

Scientists find new type of giant rat

Scientists say they have discovered a heretofore unknown species of 32 inch-long giant rat within the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

The giant rat, among the largest ever discovered, has no fear of humans and was found by an expedition team filming a BBC documentary titled Lost Land of the Volcano, the British broadcaster reported Monday.

Expedition members reported the new rat species, which has not yet been named, is believed to live only within the Mount Bosavi crater.

This is one of the world's largest rats, Kristofer Helgen, a mammalogist for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, told the BBC. It is a true rat, the same kind you find in the city sewers.

The broadcaster said the giant rat was first filmed at an infrared camera trap set up by BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan, then expedition members managed to trap a live specimen.

I had a cat and it was about the same size as this rat, Buchanan said.