Rodents that were claimed to be extinct for 11 million years are very much alive

Something to remember the next time someone claims that some animals are on the verge of extinction.

A few months after researchers on one team thought they had discovered a new family of rodent, another group snatched their glory by identifying the critter as a member of a family thought long extinct.

Last year, scientists described the body of a squirrel-like rodent found for sale in a meat market in Laos. They believed it belonged to a previously undescribed family and named it Laonastes aenigmamus. [Locals call the rodent kha-nyou, according to The Associated Press.]

But they failed to fully inspect the fossil record. Upon closer analysis of the creature's teeth, a second group of researchers determined it was a member of the previously known rodent family Diatomyidae.

So a family thought to have died out 11 million years ago is still alive and kicking, the scientists report in the March 10 issue of the journal Science.



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