After two years of research, it has been concluded that the pig-nosed vampire rat is the new species with vampire teeth that takes away from its rather adorable-looking big, Mickey Mouse ears.
- There are 1,5000 known species of rats, evolving for over 25 million years
- Hyorhinomys stuempkei was found in 2013, on an island in Indonesia
- It has a pig-like oversized nose, large ears, 0.75-inch long incisors, and no coronoid process
Pig Nosed Vampire Rat of Indonesia
In 2013, researchers found this fascinating type of rat on Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia. Its peculiar aspect, including the pig-like nose, long snout and terrifyingly long incisors had them nearly instantly assuming it’s a new species. However, it took years of study to confirm.
Now, we are presented with an entirely new type of rat, Hyorhinomys stuempkei, with its own genus, and adding to the other around 1,500 known species. It was discovered by Jacob Esselstyn and Kevin Rowe, who have stated that they knew instantly this was a new species on their hands. It’s unique features and elusive manner brought forth the exciting prospect of an unknown rodent.
Esselstyn, a curator of mammals at the Museum of Natural Science in Louisiana, has identified two other species across the Indonesian island: the few-toothed shrew rat, and the Sulawesi water rat. However, neither was as exceptional as H. stuempkei. Its aspect alone fluctuates between cute and horrifying.
While there are certain features that reminds one of the shrew rat, H. stuempkei has an odd morphology and unique genetic makeup. The rodent’s pink and oversized hog nose is aimed forward, as opposed as being directed at the sides for most of its kind. It’s unknown why this specie in particular has evolved as such, but it’s estimated that it might enhance its sense of smell.
The big ears are nothing short of adorable, with long limbs that suggest this particular type of rat would hop around the humid forests of Sulawesi. However, its likewise oversized incisors are not precisely lovable.
What is truly the second focus point of this exciting new specie, is its vampire-like, long front teeth. The incisors stand at an incredible 0.75 inches (20 millimeters) in length that it likely uses to dig deep into its prey. Interestingly, the H. stuempkei’s mouth barely opens, so it essentially slurps out its food, be it worms, larvae or small invertebrates.
According to Rowe, who is a senior curator of mammals at Museum Victoria in Australia, “it looks like it’s whistling all the time” due to the oversized, sharp teeth that possibly will not allow it to close its mouth.
H. stuempkei is missing a key element, specifically the coronoid process, which allows most rats (and humans) to easily chew through hard foods, such as seeds or plants. While shrew rats generally barely display it, the hog-nosed rat or the pig nosed vampire rat does not feature it whatsoever, which explains its choice of soft-bodied prey.
As stated by Esselstyn, it’s exciting that new species are still being discovered, and while the past couple of years have presented a few exceptional finds, more are likely to come.
Image source: bbci.co.uk