While traveling through Laos, China, Robert Timmins discovered a new species of rodent while visiting a southeast Asian food market.
“It was for sale on a table next to some vegetables”, says conservation biologist Robert Timmins, “And I knew immediately it was something I had never seen before.”
The Rock Rat, kha-nyou in Laos, is a new species of rodent that the people of Laos skewer and roast. The animal has yet to be seen alive, but was successfully trapped.
A weird species of rodent, totally new to science, has been discovered on sale in a southeast Asian food market. The rock rat – or kha-nyou as it is known in Laos – is unlike any rodent seen before by scientists.
With the rodent being added to the menu even before the science books, we still know little more than it is a tasty treat for the Laos people.
Closely related to guinea pigs and chinchillas, although it looks like a squirrel rat, the Rock Rat has long whiskers, a thick furry tail, large paws, stubby legs and is about 40 centimeters long from nose to tail.
The “Laonastidae Aenigmamus” was unique enough to have a whole new family, the Laonastidae, to accomodate it.
The last new mammal family to be created was long ago in 1974, the bummblebee bat, making this discovery remarkable, yet tasty find.