A tale of new whiskers

Despite widespread habitat destruction on the Philippine island of Luzon, scientists have discovered a featherweight tree mouse there with an unexpected evolutionary past. Weighing just 15 grams, the only specimen of the yet-unnamed species sports orangey fur, impressive fountains of whiskers, a long tail, and a jaw powerful enough to crack nutshells.

L. Heaney/Field Museum, Chicago

Judging from physical characteristics, it does not fit into any of the three evolutionary clusters that contain the dozens of other mouse and rat species unique to the Philippines, says Eric Rickart of the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City. The new species represents a lineage that must have immigrated to the islands independently, he says. His team caught the animal in Luzon’s ravaged lowland forest.

More Stories from Science News on Animals