Rat found in northern Vietnam after 11-mln-year extinction

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A rodent species that was believed to have disappeared 11 million years ago has been found in northern Vietnam, Tuoi Tre quoted the director of Vietnam's Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park as saying Tuesday.

According to Director Luu Minh Thanh, the discovery was made by Fauna and Floral International, a non-governmental wildlife conservation organization, and a group of Vietnamese experts who are currently researching the biodiversity of the part, which is located in Quang Binh Province.

The international and local experts found the animal, which looks like a rat with a thick and squirrel-like tail, in Thuong Hoa Commune, Minh Hoa District, where Ruc, an ethnic minority native to the area, often catch it for meat.

Also known as Laotian rock rat (Laonastes aenigmamus), the species was first discovered in 2005 when it was on sale at an outdoor food market in Laos, according to a report on new species in the Greater Mekong issued by World Wildlife Fund in 2008.

At first scientists believed that it was a new species, but further examinations showed that in fact it belonged to an ancient species of rodent believed to have disappeared some 11 million years ago, the report said.

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