A rare new species of rat — up to four times the size of the rodents that populate American cities — has been identified in the Solomon Islands.
The discovery marks the first time in 80 years that a new rat species has been found in the archipelago in the South Pacific.
In 2010, mammalogist Tyrone Lavery heard rumors about a coconut-cracking giant rat called "vika" that lived in the trees of Vangunu Island. People on the island even had songs and children's rhymes about the rats. But after several surveys, Lavery couldn't find the creature.
"I started to question if it really was a separate species, or if people were just calling regular black rats 'vika,'" Lavery said in a statement from The Field Museum in Chicago, where he is a postdoctoral researcher.