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La Hispaniola have a new James Bond, a rodent
Dominican Republic, 5/18/2015

A different cat-sized rodent has been discovered on the Caribbean island Hispaniola.

It weighs more than a kilogram, and has soft-brown fur and a short tail. It’s also nocturnal and lives in small caves, which might explain why it hasn’t been discovered for so long.

It have been named Bond, James Bond as it common name. Its scientific classification is Plagiodontia aedium bondi.

James Bond was a real-life ornithologist based in the Caribbean. When Ian Fleming created his fictional master of sneak, he took his name from the ornithologist.

Bond revealed that there was a barrier running across Hispaniola, on either side of which the animals are markedly different.

The markedly different between the animals of both sides of the barrier it’s because centuries ago there was a shallow sea channel running across the island, known as "Bond's line", which prevented animals from moving freely.

The newly discovered guinea-pig-like creature belongs to an ancient group of rodents called hutias, described in the journal Zootaxa. 

According to the lead author of the Zoological Society of London in UK, Samuel Turvey, the discovery of new mammals is always incredibly exciting, as there are now so few unexplored places left in the world.
Turvey says that the Caribbean has had the world's highest level of mammal extinctions in the last few hundred years caused by humans.

La Hispaniola was colonized in the 1500s, and humans introduced invasive cats, dogs and mongoose, resulting the native animals threatened by extinction for these species that they weren’t prepared to cope with these threats.

More recently, people have been destroying the forests the hutias live in.

Now that the James Bond hutia has been discovered and named, there is some hope for its survival.

According to Turvey, species found on isolated islands, such as those in the Caribbean, have been shaken and stirred by human activity and are very vulnerable to extinction. However, he hopes that conservation efforts will mean that hutias are forever.


Topic(s):    Biodiversity