Monday, November 23, 2009

Giant Rat, Bear-Like Marsupial Found in Lost World Crater

Since the last eruption of Mount Bosavi 200,000 years ago, the Papua New Guinea volcano has become a rich environment full of animals and insects that can’t be seen anywhere else on Earth. And when an expedition of researchers from the US, UK and Papua New Guinea ventured into the crater of Mount Bosavi earlier this year, they found a wealth of previously undiscovered species.
The expedition, filmed by the BBC for a three-part series, took the team into one of the remotest areas of the planet. The rain forest in the dormant volcano’s 100-meter-wide crater is nearly inaccessible. The nearest village is 15 miles away, and the local language is spoken by fewer than 1000 people. The team had to explain to the villagers the concept of paying them for their help and the temporary use of their land to set up base camp.The world inside the crater was completely untouched by human influence. The giant rodents they discovered had no knowledge of humans and therefore showed no fear of the researchers.With the rain forests of Papua New Guinea disappearing at a rate of 3.5% each year, these newly-discovered species are at risk of losing their habitat.Because of their extreme isolation, the species in the Mount Bosavi crater evolved completely separately from other wildlife. A new species of fanged frog was found, along with the above spider which disguises itself as lichen to trick predators. Since there are no cats or primates in the crater, the main predators are large monitor lizards.

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