Exclusive Mickey Mouse kangaroo captured on camera for the first time

December 10th, 2007 - 1:46 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 10 (ANI): Scientists have captured on camera a new desert animal in the deserts of Mongolia and China, which hops just like a kangaroo.
Known as the long eared jerboa, this animal was captured on camera by an expedition in the Gobi Desert led by scientist Jonathan Baillie from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
The species is a tiny nocturnal mammal that has enormous ears, thus dwarfing its overall appearance.
“These creatures hop just like a kangaroo; it is amazing to watch. Little hairs on their feet, almost like snow shoes, allow them to jump along the sand,” said Dr Baillie. “And in terms of mammals, they have one of the biggest ear-to-body ratios out there,” he added.
“The long-eared jerboa is a bit like the Mickey Mouse of the desert, cute and comic in equal measure,” said Dr Baillie said.
Until now, the creatures had proven extremely difficult to study, thanks to their minuscule size, nocturnal nature and the harsh desert environment that they inhabit.
But now, with the footage from the expedition, it was revealed that the creatures spend daylight hours burrowed down in underground tunnels beneath the sand, and that their diet was mostly made up of insects.
By setting pitfall traps, the researchers were also able to look at the close-up of the rodents and to begin to estimate their population.
According to Dr Baillie, although there was still much to learn about the rare rodent, it was already believed to be under threat from habitat disturbance.
“These amazing, remarkable creatures are on the verge of extinction and we know almost nothing about them,” warned Dr Baillie. “We travelled to the Gobi to find out about the animal’s status and learn more about it so we can develop a thorough long-term action plan,” he added.
“Everyone thinks the desert is a totally desolate area, void of biodiversity, and often when conservation planning is done, deserts are overlooked, Dr Baillie told BBC News. “But there are some remarkable species in the desert, so we really need to start paying attention to this environment,” he added.
An Edge scientist has now been appointed to further study the species. (ANI)

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