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Zoo expedition team discovers long-lost species in Cyclops mountains

PUBLISHED: 11:47 19 July 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

Clockwise from top: The single museum specimen of the long-beaked echidna

Clockwise from top: The single museum specimen of the long-beaked echidna

By Susanna Wilkey AN ANIMAL that many biologists thought was extinct has been discovered by scientists from London Zoo. The long-beaked echidna – also known as the Zaglossus attenboroughi after Sir David Attenborough – is alive and kicking in the Cyclops

By Susanna Wilkey

AN ANIMAL that many biologists thought was extinct has been discovered by scientists from London Zoo.

The long-beaked echidna - also known as the Zaglossus attenboroughi after Sir David Attenborough - is alive and kicking in the Cyclops mountains of Papua New Guinea.

The egg-laying mammal is only known to scientists from a single museum specimen dating from 1961.

But a Zoological Society of London Edge programme went to mountains unexplored for more than 45 years to search for the creature.

There they found tribes that had recently seen them as well as the burrows and nose-pokes left by the animal - holes where the echidnas reach into the ground with their noses for worms.

Programme manager Dr Jonathan Baillie said: "We hope that Sir David Attenborough will be delighted to hear that his namesake species is still surviving in the wilds of the Papuan jungle.

"The Zoological Society of London is now planning a further expedition to the mountains to discover more about the species and devise conservation plans to ensure its long-term survival."

The month long-expedition involved trekking in almost impenetrable jungle on the steep slopes of the Cyclops mountains.

A number of tribes contributed invaluable information about the wildlife of the area, including sightings of the rare creature.

The local name given to the species by the tribes is "Payangko".

Dr Baillie said: "In addition to Attenborough's echidna, we found an astonishingly vast array of biodiversity, some of which is highly unlikely to be known to science.

"Our next Edge expedition will provide us with a fantastic opportunity to both study one of the most extraordinary species on the planet and discover new ones.

"ZSL will be working with the government of Papua, local communities and our local NGO partner, Conservation International, to ensure that the environmental and cultural elements of the expedition are fully realised."

Attenborough's long-beaked echidna is one of the focal species of ZSL's Edge programme, which focuses on the world's most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered animals.

The programme was launched at the start of this year and is now undertaking and planning expeditions to some of the world's most varied environments.

It aims to study and conserve weird and wonderful species.

For more information, visit www.zsl.org/edge.

susanna.wilkey@hamhigh.co.ukBy Susanna Wilkey

AN ANIMAL that many biologists thought was extinct has been discovered by scientists from London Zoo.

The long-beaked echidna - also known as the Zaglossus attenboroughi after Sir David Attenborough - is alive and kicking in the Cyclops mountains of Papua New Guinea.

The egg-laying mammal is only known to scientists from a single museum specimen dating from 1961.

But a Zoological Society of London Edge programme went to mountains unexplored for more than 45 years to search for the creature.

There they found tribes that had recently seen them as well as the burrows and nose-pokes left by the animal - holes where the echidnas reach into the ground with their noses for worms.

Programme manager Dr Jonathan Baillie said: "We hope that Sir David Attenborough will be delighted to hear that his namesake species is still surviving in the wilds of the Papuan jungle.

"The Zoological Society of London is now planning a further expedition to the mountains to discover more about the species and devise conservation plans to ensure its long-term survival."

The month long-expedition involved trekking in almost impenetrable jungle on the steep slopes of the Cyclops mountains.

A number of tribes contributed invaluable information about the wildlife of the area, including sightings of the rare creature.

The local name given to the species by the tribes is "Payangko".

Dr Baillie said: "In addition to Attenborough's echidna, we found an astonishingly vast array of biodiversity, some of which is highly unlikely to be known to science.

"Our next Edge expedition will provide us with a fantastic opportunity to both study one of the most extraordinary species on the planet and discover new ones.

"ZSL will be working with the government of Papua, local communities and our local NGO partner, Conservation International, to ensure that the environmental and cultural elements of the expedition are fully realised."

Attenborough's long-beaked echidna is one of the focal species of ZSL's Edge programme, which focuses on the world's most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered animals.

The programme was launched at the start of this year and is now undertaking and planning expeditions to some of the world's most varied environments.

It aims to study and conserve weird and wonderful species.

For more information, visit www.zsl.org/edge.

susanna.wilkey@hamhigh.co.uk


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