Madagascar swamp creature is the first carnivorous mammal discovered in 24 years

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Meet Durrell's Vonistra, an aquatic, mongoose-like creature the size of a cat. This little beast lives in Madagacar's largest lake, Lac Alaotra, which is becoming polluted and drying up thanks to rice farming.

Salanoia durrelli is named after the late conservationist Gerald Durrell and was first spotted in 2004. Researchers originally thought that Durrell's vonistra was the previously discovered brown-tailed vonistra until they noticed important morphological differences. Say vonistra-discoverer Fidimalala Bruno Ralainasolo:

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 [...] 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.


Frank Hawkins of Conservation International also notes:

This species is probably the carnivore with one of the smallest ranges in the world, and likely to be one of the most threatened [...] The Lac Alaotra wetlands are under considerable pressure, and only urgent conservation work to make this species a flagship for conservation will prevent its extinction.


[Wild Madagascar via Slashdot. Photos via The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.]