October 13th, 2010
09:33 AM ET

Species discovered in Madagascar

Researchers caught this Durrell's vontsira in 2004 and eventually determined it was an unknown species.

British researchers have identified a previously unknown mammal in Madagascar, and it's already endangered.

Researchers from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, London's Natural History Museum, Nature Heritage and Conservation International discovered the critter, which eats meat, weighs about 1.5 pounds and is the size of a fox squirrel.

The brown speckled creature lives in the Lac Alaotra wetlands in central eastern Madagascar. Scientists briefly captured one in 2004 and suspected it was a new species. They took detailed photos of it and confirmed that it was different from the brown-tailed vontsira, a mongoose-like animal that also lives in the area, the Durrell Trust stated on its website.

"The future of the species is very uncertain because the Lac Alaotra marshes are extremely threatened by agricultural expansion, burning and invasive plants and fish," said Fidimalala Bruno Ralainasolo, a conservation biologist working for the Durrell Trust who captured the original specimen.

Zoologists named the critter Burrell's vontsira, after the late conservationist Gerald Burrell, founder of the trust, which is dedicated to preserving endangered species. The findings are described in the current issue of the Natural History Museum's taxonomic journal Systematics and Biodiversity.

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Filed under: Africa • Animals • Environment • World
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. ERNE

    So, another one set to bite the dust?

    October 13, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Charlie

    To CNN – you might want to correct the name of this critter to Durrell's Vontsira, rather than "Burrell's". You got it right under the photo, and the organization, "Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust".

    October 14, 2010 at 5:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. frank

    wats up so creepy but cool but what are they going to do save this animal

    October 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |

    Is it possible that the people in Madagascar had never seen this mamal? You need to check the language you use in these publications. I ceom from a country where it is said that "Sir Samuel Baker discovered the source of the Nile" My people had been fishing from that source for generations.

    October 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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