Subscribe to our Voices Dispatches email list to receive a comprehensive summary of the top opinions from the week.
Join our mailing list to receive our weekly Voices newsletter for free.
A video has been recorded for the first time of a unique mammal that lays eggs and is named after Sir David Attenborough. This species had been missing for over 60 years.
A group of explorers has recently found the Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna, a creature that was previously documented by science only once in 1961.
This was the initial documentation of the event, through photographs and recorded footage, obtained by placing remote cameras in the Cyclops Mountains located in the Papua Province of Indonesia.
The mysterious creature possesses the prickly quills of a hedgehog, the long snout of an anteater, and the digging feet of a mole.
Due to its mixed appearance, it is named after a mythological creature from Greece that is half-human and half-serpent.
These creatures are active at night and are known for being challenging to locate.
Furthermore, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently designates Attenborough’s echidna as being in the Critically Endangered category.
On the final day of Expedition Cyclops, four weeks later, the team was able to capture images of the elusive Attenborough’s echidna. These were the first-ever photographs of the mammal, taken on the last day with the last images on the final memory card.
According to Dr. James Kempton from the Department of Biology at the University of Oxford, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, our initial reaction upon discovering it was a feeling of relief.
“After three and a half years of preparation, our expedition was finally able to capture photographic evidence of the elusive echidna. We had observed its telltale holes in the field, but it wasn’t until our last day that we were able to obtain pictures.”
He stated, “At first, there is a strong feeling of relief, but then there is a sudden rush of euphoria.”
As the only remaining scientist, I had descended from the mountains and was searching through images for the echidna. When I finally found it, I couldn’t contain my excitement and rushed out to the living room of our base house. I eagerly exclaimed to my Papuan colleagues, who were still with me, “We’ve found it!”
The long-beaked echidna, discovered by Attenborough, is a member of the monotreme group, which diverged from the rest of the mammal family tree approximately 200 million years ago.
The echidna is a unique species, as it is one of the few remaining monotremes in existence.
In order to increase their chances of locating the animal, the team utilized over 80 trail cameras and made numerous trips up the mountains, covering a total distance of over 11,000 meters (equivalent to the height of Mount Everest).
Throughout nearly the entire four-week duration of the team’s time in the forest, the cameras did not capture any indication of the presence of the echidna.
In addition to looking for the echidna, the expedition also conducted a thorough evaluation of the various invertebrate, reptile, amphibian, and mammal species in the Cyclops Mountains.
Through the collaboration of scientific methods and the expertise of the Papuan team members in the forest, a multitude of fresh findings were unearthed. These findings consisted of several dozens of insect species that were previously unknown to science.
The Mayr’s honeyeater (Ptiloprora mayri), a bird named after well-known evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, was also found again after being absent in scientific records since 2008.
The scientists were taken aback by the discovery of a completely new type of shrimp that lives on the ground and in trees.
Dr Leonidas-Romanos Davranoglou, a Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, was the lead entomologist for the expedition.
He stated that they were surprised to find the shrimp in the forest since it is unusual for these creatures to live away from the coast.
We think that the abundant rain in the Cyclops Mountains creates a suitable level of humidity for these creatures to survive solely on land.
The journey was a collaboration involving the University of Oxford, Indonesian non-governmental organization Yayasan Pelayanan Papua Nenda (YAPPENDA), Cenderawasih University (UNCEN), Papua BBKSDA, and the National Research and Innovation Agency of Indonesia (BRIN), Re:Wild.
The source of this information is the Independent website.