Saturday, June 22, 2024 | 07:39 WIB

After 62 Years, Researchers Find Long-Snouted Echidna in the Mountains of Papua

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Jakarta, IO – Sir David Attenborough’s long-snouted echidna, a spiny mammal, has been seen again after 62 years in the Cycloop Mountains, Papua.

The existence of the echidna with the Latin name Zaglossus attenboroughi was discovered by researchers on the Cycloop Expedition. They managed to photograph the animal alive after it was thought to be extinct (it was last seen in 1961), per BBC Indonesia, Sat (11/11).

Over the last 62 years, the existence of this species has only been proven from one preserved specimen which is now stored at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands.  The specimen was discovered near the peak of Mount Rara, Cycloop Mountains by Dutch botanist Pieter van Royen in 1961.

“Finding evidence that this species is still alive is like finding a branch on the tree of life that has a very long evolutionary history,” said James Kempton, a scientist from the University of Oxford in England who is leading the expedition from June-July 2023.

Zaglossus attenboroughi is an animal with a body full of spines like a hedgehog. It walks on four legs and has a long straight snout, and lives in the remote forests of the Cycloop Mountains.  Villagers at the foot of the mountain call it payangko.

James explained that the payangko was indeed Zaglossus attenboroughi based on the description of the animal’s characteristics seen on the camera that captured its whereabouts.

He said this echidna has a straighter snout and is shorter than other echidna species. The body structure also matches the specimen stored in the museum. This species of echidna is the smallest of the echidnas, and the individual seen was estimated to be around 70-80 cm long.

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Furthermore, James said that research regarding this species of payangko was not the first. One thing that happened was the 2007 expedition, but it did not produce results. James said the discovery of the species, which was made in the side of the forest least touched by humans for 17 days, was good news.

“This discovery means that the population of this species has been maintained since it was last seen in 1961, so this is good news,” James explained. “I suspect there are more populations, although not too many because they only live in these mountains.” (un)

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