London, Oct 12 (ANI): Scientists have discovered a new species of carnivore in Madagascar.
The cat-sized, speckled brown mammal belongs to a family of mongoose-like animals found only on the Indian Ocean island, conservationists said.
The species - named Durrell's vontsira (Salanoia durrelli) - is probably one of the most threatened carnivores in the world.
It was identified by researchers from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Natural History Museum, Nature Heritage and Conservation International.
The animal was first spotted swimming in a lake by a team from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in 2004 while they were surveying bamboo lemurs.
After briefly examining the animal the team suspected they had found a new species and took photographs of it.
Subsequent analysis of specimens of another species, the brown-tailed vontsira, in the Natural History Museum's collections, showed that they had found a new species.
It is the first new species of carnivorous mammal to be discovered in 24 years.
"We have known for some time that a carnivore lives in the Lac Alaotra marshes, but we've always assumed it was a brown-tailed vontsira that is also found in the eastern rainforests," the Daily Mail quoted Fidimalala Bruno Ralainsasolo, a conservation biologist working with Durrell who originally captured the new carnivore in the lake, as saying.
"However, differences in its skull, teeth and paws have shown that this animal is clearly a different species with adaptations to life in an aquatic environment.
"It is a very exciting discovery and we decided to honour our founder, the world-renowned conservationist Gerald Durrell, by naming this new species after him." (ANI)