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.
View more at NBC News.
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.