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People Just Discovered This Unique Animal Who Only Lives on a ‘Sky Island’ in the Philippines
NATURE Philippines

People Just Discovered This Unique Animal Who Only Lives on a ‘Sky Island’ in the Philippines

On the highest point of an island in the Philippines lives a furry little animal no one knew existed — until now.  

The Philippines' Palawan Island is home to Mount Mantalingajan, which is known as a "sky island."

Sky islands are habitats that are so high that they become isolated from the low-lying areas around them, meaning that all kinds of unknown animals might live on top — and nowhere else. 

The newly discovered Palawan moss shrew from the Philippines does not resemble any other type of shrew or have close relatives in Asia or elsewhere. Image: Danilo Balete
The newly discovered Palawan moss shrew from the Philippines does not resemble any other type of shrew or have close relatives in Asia or elsewhere. Image: Danilo Balete

Scientists have already identified two other kinds of animals who live there and nowhere else on Earth — the Palawan montane squirrel and the Palawan soft-furred mountain rat — and now they've discovered a third: the Palawanosorex muscorum, or the Palawan moss shrew.

"In many ways, finding this species was exactly what we had expected," Larry Heaney, curator of mammals at Chicago's Field Museum, said. Sky island habitats are replete with rare and unique species, so it's no wonder this special shrew lives there. 

Mount Mantalingajan, on Palawan Island in the Philippines, is a sky island. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Mount Mantalingajan, on Palawan Island in the Philippines, is a sky island. Image: Wikimedia Commons

"There could be many new species on these high mountainous regions in the Philippines, but because they are so high, and hard to get to, knowledge of their existence is awfully limited."  

This newest find took a while to definitely determine as a new species — the shrew was first spotted in 2007, and has hardly been seen since.

Perhaps only one photograph exists of the little animal, who has a pointy nose, thick gray fur and special claws perfect for digging in the dirt for worms.  

Illustration of the newly identified Palawan moss shrew. Image: Velizar Simeonovski, Field Museum
Illustration of the newly identified Palawan moss shrew. Image: Velizar Simeonovski, Field Museum

Luckily, researchers have been able to render a likeness of the little shrew — so everyone can marvel at the discovery.  

"There are entire countries that don't have three unique mammal species," Heaney added. "So for there to be three species on one mountain, on one island, in one country is really something." 


Source :  Phys.org | Mongabay.com | The Dodo

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