A pair of new animal species has been discovered on the Philippine island of Camiguin. Researchers announced earlier this month that the two species, a parrot and a mouse, are believed to exist nowhere else on Earth.
The bird was identified as a hanging parrot or Colasisi. Its distinctive features include bright green feathers, blue plumage on its thighs and throat and a scarlet-orange head and tail. The Philippine forest mouse is characterized by large eyes and ears, a long tail and brown fur. It subsists on insects and seeds.
Locals said they had known about the parrot because some specimens had been captured in the past as pets, although they were unaware of the mouse’s existence. Lawrence Heaney, a member of the research team, said the island of Camiguin was once covered by rainforest but by 2001 only 18 per cent of the forest area remained.
“Knowing that at least 54 species of birds and at least 24 species of mammals live on Camiguin, and that some of these animals are found nowhere else on Earth, make us realize how important this island is in terms of conservation,” he said.
“For these animals to survive, we’ve got to save the dwindling forests where they live,” Dr Heaney, curator of mammals at The Field Museum in Chicago, added. The two animals were formally identified following scientific expeditions on Camiguin as well as comparisons with museum specimens.
“This description is based on a series of specimens that had been part of The Field Museum’s collections for almost 40 years, so our work highlights the value of collecting and preserving specimens, because you may not initially realize the significance of specimens,” John Bates, curator of birds and zoology chair at The Field Museum, said.
Camiguin is one of the smallest of several thousand islands in the Philippine archipelago. Despite the loss of much of the rainforest, many are believed to serve as the habitat for animals still unknown to science. Blas Tabaranz of the Haribon Foundation, a Manila-based conservation organization, said the concentration of endemic species makes the region an important conservation area.
“Unfortunately, the Philippines has also vaulted into notoriety as one of the most severely deforested tropical countries in the world,” Mr Tabaranza said.