Rats the size of a cats and fanged frogs were discovered by Smithsonian Institution biologists working with the Natural History Unit from the BBC in the remote Southern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea in the Mount Bosavi Crater, an extinct volcano. The huge crater, measuring two and half miles wide and rimmed with walls nearly half a mile high, appear to have trapped these creatures inside the isolated crater’s rainforests and they possibly have never been seen by man before.
Among the discoveries is a woolly silvery gray rat, weighing nearly 3.5 pounds, and measuring 32 inches from nose to tail, that’s almost three friggin’ feet long! I think I just soiled myself...
The Bosavi Crater rat would be one of the largest rats in the world. Most surprising to the BBC documentary team, the rodents were completely tame, a sign that animals were unfamiliar with humans. The rats live on a diet of leaves and roots, and probably build their nests underground beneath rocks and tree roots. A member of the genus Mallomys, these rats have yet to receive their formal scientific name. More than 70 species of rats and mice are found on Papua New Guinea. (And I don’t think I’ll be vacationing there anytime soon.)
Altogether, some 40 new species were discovered by the crater expedition, including approximately 16 species of frog, one species of gecko, at least three new species of fish, 20 species of insects and spiders and one new species of bat, plus what may be a new subspecies of tree-living marsupial.
The BBC and Smithsonian teams found these previously unknown species while filming a documentary about wildlife of Papua New Guinea. The film, Lost Land of the Volcano, is a three part series which started airing this week in the United Kingdom on BBC One. Below is some footage.