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. nick

    what is it

    October 13, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. nick

    hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii yoooooooooooooooooooo

    October 13, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. nick

    how big is it

    October 13, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. nick


    October 13, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. bad boy

    can it be named grrrrrrrr?

    October 13, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    Uhh.. tht looks like my mother D:

    October 13, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      how do you kno wat my mom looks like??

      November 10, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      ur an idiot george

      November 10, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. termlimits

    You'll find more in the deli.

    October 13, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. hoss

    call it the thing. V.W. pulled it off

    October 13, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Boney

    poor little thing...leave it alone

    October 13, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jim Brieske

    Great. So human beings starve so these rat like weasles can live there. Round them all up, put them in captivity and pay people to care for them.
    I know some will say it's a death sentence but it's either them or humans.
    I got an older ten dollar bill in my change one day. Was worth $20 to a collector. I spent it.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. the truth

    its a beast...its a dog.... is a beast...bet it tastes like frog

    October 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rita tonucci

    TEst-comment follows

    October 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rita tonucci

    REcently, scientists have discovered many new species-some previously believed to be extinct. These discoveries result from the clearing of ancient animal habitats for humans. Sadly, recently, scientists have also discovered that many species are now dying in large numbers-including frogs, snakes, bats and even migratory wildlife. Many scientists believe this results from pollution and pesticides in our streams, rivers and oceans. Please vote for the ENVIRONMENTALLY SANE Democrats and help save our troubled planet for our children. Thanks, your grateful friend-Rita.

    October 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nisroc

    If they are a new species then i would hope they are endangered as there should be only a few of them. Because of this I think government should just leave them alone so they they multiply. After all Human started with one male and one female and as stupid as we are we multiplied way too much

    October 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lynn

    wow under the obama administration.

    October 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
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