It’s hard to believe that in 2021 it might still be possible for humans to discover a whole new mammal. Yet it is precisely What happened. Scientists recently published a the description of the new species, as well as a video of its unique sound appeal.
The adorable little creature — nicknamed Interfluvial Dendrohyrax-is a species of tree hyrax, that is, a small herbivorous mammal. The nocturnal animal was first noticed by a team of researchers in 2009, who heard its distinct bark-like call during a nighttime expedition to Nigeria. The calls of tree hyraxes living between the Niger and Volta rivers sound more like bark than those living in other parts of the African forest zone, which use howling vocalizations.
In the video below you can hear the call of the previously known species of tree hyrax followed by the call of the recently discovered hyrax:
“Sometimes a listening ear is as important as a keen eye,” said Eric Sargis, curator of vertebrate mammalogy and paleontology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. “My co-authors Joh Oates and Simon Bearder were in Nigeria in 2009 looking for galagos, a group of primates, when they noticed that hyrax calls were different from one side of Niger to the other. All the evidence that we have studied afterwards, including the distinctive vocalizations, points to a unique species in the forests between the Niger and the Volta. “
Scientists also found that there were notable anatomical and genetic differences between the two species. These variations included different shapes and sizes of skulls, fur colors and as the inter-river populations were genetically distinct from others.
“There is growing evidence that the Niger and Volta rivers are important biogeographic barriers for a range of mammals,” Oates said. “Hyrax, for example, do not pass through water easily, so it makes sense that over millions of years of climate change, as African forests have expanded and contracted, new species would have sprung up. differentiated into isolated forest fragments called refuges, then were limited in their subsequent dispersal by large rivers.
So, this new species of tree hyrax is probably just one of many unique animal species in this distinct region between the rivers, which is exciting! However, researchers warn that the region is sadly under serious threat due to the ever-growing human population, commercial logging, agriculture and hunting.
Going through Mashable