Cloud Rat Rediscovered After 112 Years
The greater dwarf cloud rat was thought to live in the canopies of tall trees in the Philippines, but the last sighting of one was 112 years ago. Now it has been found again.
One of the rodents was found in Mt. Pulag National Park in the Philippines.
The fist-sized mammal has dense, soft, reddish-brown fur, a black mask around large dark eyes, small rounded ears, a broad and blunt snout, and a long tail covered with dark hair.
"This beautiful little animal was seen by biologists only once previously — by a British researcher in 1896 who was given several specimens by local people, so he knew almost nothing about the ecology of the species," said Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Field Museum and leader of a team that rediscovered the rat. "Since then, the species has been a mystery, in part because there is virtually no forest left on Mt. Data, where it was first found."
The dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) is a smaller relative of giant clouds rats, spectacular animals found only on Luzon Island in the Philippines, but widespread and comparatively well known.
The dwarf cloud rat was captured by Danilo Balete of the Philippine National Museum, in a patch of mature mossy forest (also called cloud forest) high on Mt. Pulag, at about 7,700 feet (2,350 meters) above sea level. It was in the canopy of a large tree, on a large horizontal branch covered by a thick layer of moss, orchids and ferns, Balete said.
"We had suspected from its broad, hand-like hind feet that it lived up in big trees, but this is the first evidence to confirm that," Balete said.
Since this is the first time the dwarf cloud rat has been seen in its natural habitat, the data collected from this specimen "will significantly augment our understanding of how these rodents evolved, what makes them tick, and how we can keep them around," said William Stanley, collections manager of mammals at the Field Museum. "Also, finding this animal again gives us hope for the conservation of one of the most diverse and threatened mammal faunas of the world."
The research team thinks that this species probably lives only high in the big canopy trees in mature mossy forests at high elevations.
"Now that we know where to look for them, it will be possible to learn more," Heaney said.
Favorite Wins Kentucky Derby in Tragedy
Big Brown backed up his trainer's boasts with an explosive finishing kick and won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, a commanding victory turned somber by the fatal breakdown of the filly Eight Belles on horse racing's biggest day.
The cheers for the winner's 4 3/4-length victory were cut short when Eight Belles, the runner-up, collapsed while galloping out near the second turn. She broke her two front ankles and was euthanized on the track minutes later.
"When we passed the wire I stood up. She started galloping funny. I tried to pull her up. That's when she went down," said her distraught jockey, Gabriel Saez.
Eight Belles was attempting to become the fourth filly to win the Derby.
The unbeaten Big Brown's start from the outside post did little to hamper his charge when the 20-horse field turned for home at Churchill Downs. Under the urging of jockey Kent Desormeaux, the 2-1 favorite cruised to an easy victory to become the seventh unbeaten Derby winner with his fourth consecutive win. The last one was Barbaro in 2006.
The breakdown brought back memories of the 2006 Preakness, where Barbaro shattered his right rear leg just after the start. The colt was euthanized months later, after developing laminitis from the catastrophic injuries.
The tragedy undoubtedly drained some of the joy from Big Brown's victory, which sends him to the Preakness in two weeks as the only 3-year-old with a chance to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.
"We're ready to roll," Big Brown's confident trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said.
All week, Dutrow told the world he had the best horse in the field - and the big bay colt justified every accolade tossed his way.
"I can't describe the feeling that all of us have right now," he said.
The colt became the first Derby winner since Regret in 1915 to have raced only three times previously. He is only the third in 60 years to win after racing in just two Derby preps - Sunny's Halo in 1983 and Street Sense last year were the others.
In addition, Big Brown became the second winner to start from the No. 20 post. The gelding Clyde Van Dusen did it in 1929.
Big Brown covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.82 in front of the second-largest crowd in Derby history at 157,770. He paid $6.80, $5 and $4.80.
Eight Belles paid $10.60 and $6.40, and Denis of Cork, at odds of 27-1, returned $11.60.
Dr. Larry Bramlage, the Derby's on-call veterinarian, said the filly's injuries were too severe to even attempt to move her off the track.
"She didn't have a front leg to stand on to be splinted and hauled off in the ambulance, so she was euthanized," Bramlage said.
I think those horse races are crap.
Why do people obsess over training a horse so it can run to win its owner some money?
It is cruel and unnecessary.
I have not watched a horse race and I don't plan on it.
Look at what happened!
A horse broke both of its fron ankles!
So they kill it on the track!
I couldn't stand to watch that.
Animals should have some more rights and privelages.
I am not saying that they should rule the world and have total control.
Just that they should not be treated like this.