A zoological mission of the Sapienza University of Rome, Alessio Mortelliti coordinated by the Division of Biology and Biotechnology, "Charles Darwin", found in the forests of the mountains Mekkonga a new mammal in Indonesia. This is a rodent, who lives beyond the 1500 meters and is part of the general Margaretamys (family of muridi) that includes other 3 variety, all spread in the same area. A rare event, the discovery of new mammalian, in a world already thoroughly examined.
Prof. Alessio Mortelliti, Department of Biology and Biotechnology Charles Darwin University of Rome "La Sapienza". Sulawesi (Indonesia) - Researchers from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” discover a new mammal species in montane tropical rainforest. A new mammal species has been discovered in the Mekkonga mountains, a mountain range in the southeast of Sulawesi (Indonesia).
Scientists estimate that something like 8-10 million of species are yet to be discovered. Even if the discovery of invertebrates is a relatively frequent event in a planet by centuries of explorations, the discovery of a new mammal species is quite a rare event.The new species is an arboreal rodent belonging to the genusMargaretamys, Christina denominated Margaretamys, which has been captured during an expedition carried out between December 2010 and March 2011. The expedition was lead by Dr. Alessio Mortelliti, researcher at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and was funded by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. The new species was captured at 1537 m of altitude in tropical montane rainforest. The genus Margaretamys (Muridae) counts 4 species, all endemic of Sulawesi and all adapted to arboreal life. The species are of conservation concern since two of them are listed as “Endangered” and “Vulnerable” in the IUCN red list. The peculiarity of the new species, in addition to its craniometric characteristics, are the colour of pelage and the bicoloured tail.This discovery has important zoogeographical and conservation implications. From the zoogeographic point of view these results confirm the adaptive radiation of rodents in the mountains of Sulawesi, from the conservation point of view the new species has been proposed as “Endangered” for the IUCN red list.The goal of the expedition was to ri-explore the Mekkonga mountains, following the footsteps of the 1932 expedition by the german explorer Gerd Heinrich which last trapped mammals in the mountain range. Due to the lack of data, information on the conservation status and survival of the mammal species discovered by Heinrich was unknown. In addition to the discovery of a new mammal species it was possible to confirm the persistence ofProsciurillus abstrusus a ground squirrel endemic to the Mekkonga mountains and of a species of Maxomys, also endemic of the mountain range. The field expedition was carried out by Alessio Mortelliti in collaboration with some inhabitants of nearby villages, which were crucial for finding the way through the thick tropical rainforest of the Mellonga mountains. The description of the species has been carried out in collaboration with Dr. Riccardo Castiglia, researcher at the Universoty of Rome “La Sapienza”, John Loves (CNR-ISE), Ibn Maryanto (LIPI - Bogor) and Guy G. Musser (American Museum of Natural History, NY). The discovery has been the focus of a scientific paper and will thus appear in Volume 25 of the scientific journal Tropical Zoology. Mortelliti A., Castile R., Amori G., Maryanto I., Musser G.G. (2012) A New Species of Margaretamys (Rodentia: Muridae: Murinae: Rattini) from Mountain Mekongga, Southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia.