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New species of shrew discovered on a single mountaintop in the Philippines

11 / 05 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

Scientists have described a new species of shrew that’s known to live only near the top of Mount Mantalingajan, the highest mountain on Palawan Island in the southern Philippines. The animal was first spotted in 2007 by the late Danilo “Danny” Balete, a Filipino scientist and research associate at the Field Museum in Chicago, U.S., when his team was surveying the mountain’s biodiversity. But they could not identify the species. Now, Balete’s collegues have confirmed that the shrew found near the mountain’s peak is not just a new species, but belongs to an entirely new genus. The shrew, dubbed Palawanosorex muscorum, or the Palawan moss shrew, has a stout body and broad forefeet with long claws, which it uses to dig through humus on the forest floor to look for earthworms, the researchers report in a new study published in the Journal of Mammology. The shrew also has a short tail covered by short, dense fur. By contrast, the Palawan shrew (Crocidura palawanensis), another species that’s endemic to the Philippines, has a slender body, slender feet and a very long tail covered with long bristles. So far, the tiny, gray Palawan moss shrew has been spotted only in forests close to the peak of the 2,086-meter-tall (6,844-foot) Mount Mantalingajan, between elevations of 1,550 to 1,950 meters (5,085 to 6,398 feet). In fact, the shrew is one of three mammal species that are known to occur only on Mount Mantalingajan, and nowhere else. The other two species are the Palawan montane squirrel (Sundasciurus rabori) and the Palawan soft-furred mountain rat…

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