It must be new species discovery week or something, because the Associated Press has just released a new bulletin that a previously unidentified species of tree-dwelling porcupine has been discovered in Brazil’s Northeastern Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s most threatened habitats.
Unfortunately, it may be that this species was discovered too late as deforestation has already taken a massive toll on the environment. God. damnit. I really hate people sometimes…
Antonio Rossano Mendes Pontes said his team found the rodent, which is covered in dark brown spines with reddish tips, in a small and isolated patch of forest in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. With just 2 percent of the region’s original forest habitat still standing, the newly discovered porcupine must already be considered endangered, Pontes said.
“In Latin, ‘speratus’ means hope, because we have to hope for its future,” said Pontes, a zoology professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco, in a telephone interview.
The team calculates there are about four of the porcupines per square kilometer in the area known as the Usina Trapiche Forest Remnants Archipelago, where the species was discovered. But Pontes said he doubts whether any more of the porcupines remain outside this small pocket of forest. Even if any do still exist outside the area, Pontes said there’s little chance the different groups of porcupines have been cross-breeding, meaning their gene pool is likely already compromised by inbreeding.
Because it shares its habitat with a larger, previously-known species of porcupine that lives in the upper reaches of the forest canopy, Coendou speratus lives on a lower, mid-height level, feeding primarily on seeds. The porcupine’s pointy nose and long, flexible tail help it maneuver through the trees but it can’t jump and is forced to climb down, walk across the ground and up another tree if the trees’ branches aren’t contiguous, Pontes said.
Medium-to-large sized predators, ranging from wild felines like jaguars to domesticated dogs, are the Coendou speratus’ natural enemies. But human beings pose the most significant threat to the species.
“Given the rate of destruction in this area, where 98 percent of the original Northeastern Atlantic Forest has already been destroyed, imagine how many species could have gone extinct before we even knew about them,” he said.
I’m really happy to hear about this new species of tree-dwelling porcupine but at the same time I’m SO SAD that it might be lost forever, sooner rather than later. Not to mention all of the other amazing creatures we most likely missed out on do to our human arrogance. Pathetic.