NBC News -- Researchers working in
Identifying a new species of mammal is very rare, which makes the discovery of four new species of tuco-tuco something truly exceptional, said Scott Lyell Gardner, director of the H.W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the
"In the current environment of human-caused environmental disturbance and degradation, the discovery of four previously unknown species that are relatively large in size is phenomenal,"
Tuco-tucos live underground, in extensive networks of burrows, used for nesting and storing food. The rodents are typically between 7 and 12 inches (18 to 30 centimeters) long and weigh less than a pound (0.5 kilograms) each. They communicate with one another through a series of short, but surprisingly loud, "tuc-tuc" sounds, hence their unusual name.
Gardner and his team found all of the new species in the lowlands and central valleys of
Three of the newly identified species — Ctenomys erikacuellarae, Ctenomys andersoni and Ctenomys lessai — were found in an area of
These ridges, along with the deep river valleys running between them, keep tuco-tuco groups isolated from one another. This isolation led to the evolution of distinct species of the rodent within the different valleys, the researchers said.
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