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"Mystery mouse" is Lazarus furball



_Laonastes aenigmamus_, the weird Laotian rodent described last year and placed in its own monotypic family, turns out to belong to the Diatomyidae, previously thought to have died out in the Miocene:

Abstract:

The living Laotian rodent Laonastes aenigmamus, first described in early 2005, has been interpreted as the sole member of the new family Laonastidae on the basis of its distinctive morphology and apparent phylogenetic isolation from other living rodents. Here we show that Laonastes is actually a surviving member of the otherwise extinct rodent family Diatomyidae, known from early Oligocene to late Miocene sites in Pakistan, India, Thailand, China, and Japan. Laonastes is a particularly striking example of the "Lazarus effect" in Recent mammals, whereby a taxon that was formerly thought to be extinct is rediscovered in the extant biota, in this case after a temporal gap of roughly 11 million years.

Reference:

Science 10 March 2006:
Vol. 311. no. 5766, pp. 1456 - 1458

--
Nick Pharris
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan

"Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity."
    --Edwin H. Land