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Indeed, Zenkerella is the ultimate survivor. Of the 5,400 mammal species known to science, only it and five others are the sole surviving members of ancient lineages. Even among that select group, Zenkerella's living fossil status makes it almost unique. But it is the least studied of all these ancient creatures. That's bad news for Zenkerella, whose habitat in Central Africa is under threat from deforestation and development. Since scientists have never seen the animal alive in the wild, they're not entirely sure where they live, or how many of them there are left. The utter lack of information has lead the International Union for Conservation of Nature to designate Z. insignis a "species of least concern." "These small obscure animals, they’re not getting the attention they would actually need to confirm their distribution," Seiffert said. We don't know for certain that Zenkerella is threatened, but we don't know that it isn't, either. "When more work is done, we could easily find that is the case."
The specimen sat in alcohol at the bottom of an opaque plastic container. Its luxuriant black fur was dark and matted, its characteristic tail curled. David Fernandez peered at the odd-looking critter, which he'd spent the better part of the past year trying to track down, and hoped it was the real thing. Fernandez had worked on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea for 14 years, but he'd never seen one of these animals in its entirety before. No scientist ever had. He lifted the specimen out of its container and snapped a photo with his phone. Then he texted the image to his colleague Erik Seiffert, one of the few people in the world who would recognize the creature. Seiffert immediately texted back: That's Zenkerella. "I think he was even more excited than I was," Fernandez recalled. "It was amazing, the first entire specimen available for us, and for science basically." Zenkerella insignis, the critter caught on Bioko, is one of the world's most ancient and mysterious mammals. Until now, it was known only by its fossils and 11 scattered specimens, many of which had been languishing in natural history collections for over 100 years. Researchers who were interested in the species (and there aren't many) had little to go on aside from a hind limb here, a few teeth there. No scientist in history has ever seen it alive.
originally posted by: zosimov
Thanks knowledge for putting this thread together. What beautiful and varied forms life takes..
Yes I love humanity deeply but greed, that unsatiable need that drives man to cut that last tree down is despicable.