Mystery Mammal

If this were anywhere near April 1, I would assume it was a hoax. As it is, this report from Sporting Classics Daily borders Cryptozoology. It purports to be a note on a scientific report, on a new species of “ground” squirrel, from Borneo, the “ground” in quotes, because though to all appearances it appears to be a rather typical, tassel- eared, old world tree squirrel. It also looks like our own local Abert and Kaibab populations, but for the bushiest tail I have ever seen on any squirrel, tree or ground… (here is a similar one):

The sources, at Smithsonian and Science, seem legitimate. But it gets truly weird: according to local legend, it kills (small) DEER. And eats their internal organs. It is being studied with camera traps, which have given us a lot of intriguing and sometimes confusing data.

 Read it, and let me know if you find anything further?

6 thoughts on “Mystery Mammal”

  1. OH MY GAWD! It's the Beast Of Gevaudan!(continuing my hijacking of the posts here….) Wouldn't THAT have been embarrassing if the Beast Of Gevaudan were proven to have just been a really large, mean, French squirrel! A subject for a Monty Python skit, for sure. Did they already do one on this?…..But seriously–what a fantastic critter! Reminds me some of those giant colorful squirrels in the Central African forests…..L. B.

  2. Hi Steve,
    Biologically, this is not unusual, squirrels (ie, rodents) are omnivorous. They eat meat, as well as vegetable matter. In North America, squirrels of various species are major nest predators of birds: eating and killing nestlings or eggs, much to the chagrin of birdwatchers. Captive rodents like mice and hamsters will eat their own young.

    At the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, I once saw a chipmunk feed alongside a group of house sparrows. A pile of seeds/grains was placed outdoors in an animal pen, probably as food for whatever was housed in the pen (I can't remember what now…) Anyway, the chipmunk appeared to be eating the seeds, same as the sparrows. It moved closer and closer to the sparrows, until it was shoulder to shoulder with one. Then: WHAM! It pounced upon a sparrow, bit its neck and dragged the carcass away, chewing on the body as it went. My entire family saw this happen, as well as other onlookers, and all were shocked. Nobody thought a "squirrel" would attack and eat a bird.

    PS: Psittacines (ie, parrots) are omnivores too: they eat meat, like a crow would. People are shocked to learn that too. It just goes to show how biased people are in their interpretations of animal behavior. Captive parrots eat seeds because that is what their owners think they should eat. I'm sure it's the same with dogs and cats….


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