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Earth Science

Carnivorous Swamp Beast Discovered In Madagascar 157

Posted by timothy
from the does-your-dog-bite? dept.
crudmonkey writes "Researchers have identified a previously unknown species of carnivore lurking in one of the world's most endangered lakes. Durrell's vontsira, named in honor of the late conservationist and writer Gerald Durrell, was first photographed swimming in Madagascar's Lake Alaotra in 2004. Subsequent surveys confirmed the mongoose-like creature was indeed a new species. Durrell's vontsira is the first new carnivorous mammal discovered in Madagascar in 24 years. Little is known about the species, which is roughly the size of a cat."
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Carnivorous Swamp Beast Discovered In Madagascar

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  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:49AM (#33856860) Journal
    I don't usually complain about the summaries (because I know they're all bad) but this one was a real disappointment to me. Carnivorous swamp beast?? I'm looking for this bad boy [travelpod.com]. But no, it's just a little cute furry guy, a little irate because someone is holding him by the throat. I would be irate too. OK, I know it's news, but such a disappointment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kenja (541830)
      You're looking for a tin submarine toy and plaster? But we found that years ago...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      for some reason you're assuming beast has a different meaning

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      That's no vontsira, that's a water fox.

    • by syousef (465911) on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:25AM (#33857162) Journal

      I don't usually complain about the summaries (because I know they're all bad) but this one was a real disappointment to me. Carnivorous swamp beast?? I'm looking for this bad boy [travelpod.com]. But no, it's just a little cute furry guy, a little irate because someone is holding him by the throat. I would be irate too. OK, I know it's news, but such a disappointment.

      If it was a slashdotter vs that cute little guy, I'd put money on the beaver like thing. You're forgetting what years of living in a basement does to muscle. To most of us that is a BEAST.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't usually complain about the summaries (because I know they're all bad) but this one was a real disappointment to me.

      But you aren't even complaining about the summary, you're complaining about the title.

      If you'd read the summary you wouldn't have been disappointed by the pictures because of the following.

      mongoose-like creature

      roughly the size of a cat.

      So stop complaining about the summary when you didn't even read the summary.

      Also, heh. The captcha was "retorts".

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:51AM (#33857254) Homepage Journal

      But no, it's just a little cute furry guy

      I'd be careful about describing a previously unknown carnivore as cute. It might have been unknown because nobody met one before, but it could be because nobody who met one lived to tell about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by arivanov (12034)

      I will give you my mom's siamese to hold.

      It is roughly the same size, is very old for a cat (17y), frail, slow and has terminal cancer.

      Wanna try? I am happy to call the ambulance afterwards.

      Never judgde a creature solely by its size. That is a very fine set of fangs and razorblades I see there...

      • "Never judgde a creature solely by its size"

        I caught a cute little possum by the tail when I was a kid, it was a mistake I won't make again!
      • Indeed. Anyone who considers something the size of a cat not dangerous, has never tried to bathe a cat.

        I tried. Once. He is 23lbs of gentle, loving, lazy tomcat with a permanent dander problem. That was five years and some odd months ago. I still have scars. I have the section of denim jeans I was wearing, that he tore four ragged six inch rips in (and the flesh underneath, 20 stitches). He didn't bite me, wasn't even after me in any serious manner, he just wanted to get the hell out of

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by agw (6387)
      Took them 24 years to find the cute babies. Just wait until they find the first full grown one.
    • Looks can be deceiving. The beast guarding the Cave of Kyle Banor in The Holy Grail was furry and cute, too.

    • As long as we're picking nits, it's not new. It's just new to us. It's probably been around as long as, or longer than, we have.

    • "Carnivorous swamp beast"... Oh, come on! I was expecting something close to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal and all I go is a groundhog with better dental hygiene and a temper...

  • R.O.U.S. (Score:3, Funny)

    by schlesinm (934723) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:51AM (#33856864) Homepage
    Obviously it's a Rodent Of Unusual Size.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Arancaytar (966377)

      More like a Rodent Of Usual Size. It's not much larger than a rat. :P

    • I don't believe they exist.

    • by k2r (255754) on Monday October 11, 2010 @06:07AM (#33857634)

      > Obviously it's a Rodent Of Unusual Size.
      The most obvious feature defining rodents are their teeth.
      The most obvious feature of the newly discovered animal to see in the picture(s) are its teeth which are about as non rodent as an animal's teeth can be.

      • Indeed... it seems closer to an otter (non rodent) than a beaver (rodent).

      • by Greyfox (87712)
        It looks like a mustilid of some sort, though it might also be some offshoot of mongoose (Which I think are not in that family.) I can't see its ears in that photo. It could just be someone's pet badger that got loose...
        • by Stargoat (658863)

          It's not even classified as a Musteloidea. According to the Wikipedia article, the Salanoia durrelli is from a completely different family [wikipedia.org], endemic to only Madagascar. If you look careful at the teeth, you'll see they don't resemble Musteloidea in the least.

          Poor thing looks absolutely terrified.

          • by smillie (30605)

            quote: Poor thing looks absolutely terrified.

            It's not scruffed and the person is holding the feet up. If that animal were unhappy (like some of my ferrets get) there would be some serious blood from bites and claw rips.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        The look of this creature is very similar to that of a badger or a wolverine - I'd not be surprised if it were related.

        It also has a tail and shares a lot of characteristics with the lemur; I wonder if it might not be related to the lemur and have a marsupial heritage?

        Depending on its age, it may be young (ie not full grown). It looks like a younger creature.

    • Obviously it's a Rodent Of Unusual Size.

      So is your mom.

  • and then... (Score:4, Informative)

    by OnePumpChump (1560417) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:53AM (#33856872)
    it went extinct.
    • Re:and then... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:57AM (#33857074)

      it went extinct.

      Oh come on, that's not trolling. The creature in question lives in a single lake. The land around the lake, which used to be heavy forest has been cut down. This now causes all the soil to get dumped into the lake whenever it rains. Even this article itself said that so much soil has been dumped into the lake that during the dry season, the level of water drops to a depth of 2 feet!

      The comment there isn't a -Troll. It is merely prematurely +Informative.

      • by andr00oo (915001)

        The land around the lake, which used to be heavy forest has been cut down.

        The land has been cut down? Weird

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      If a species goes extinct in the woods, and some whiny group of hippies never knew it existed, did it really ever exist?
  • by adamofgreyskull (640712) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:00AM (#33856884)
    Beneath the picture, is this:

    Durrell's vontsira is the first new carnivorous mammal discovered in Madagascar in 24 years.

    Elsewhere in the article, twice, is this:

    The first new carnivorous mammal to be discovered for 24 years

    Was the last carnivorous mammal that was discovered, discovered 24 years ago in Madagascar? I don't know about anyone else, but I would infer from the qualifier "in Madagascar" that a carnivorous mammal was discovered less than 24 years ago somewhere else in the world.

    • by Kilrah_il (1692978) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:16AM (#33856948)

      I guess they assume that having written "in Madagascar" once, you would understand the point and they would not need to keep repeating it. OTOH, why pass up an opportunity for being unnecessarily pedantic.

      • I agree with parent. The latter sentence is implying there hasn't been a carnivorous mammal discovered in 24 years at all and if that is not the case then it should specify "in Madagascar"
        • Do you agree with the parent of your post, or that parent's parent, that is to say, the grandparent (for you, but the great grandparent to me)?

          We're all vulnerable to pedantic jerks, so let's all just start letting some crap slide.
  • First things first (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jamesh (87723) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:21AM (#33856956)

    what does it taste like?

  • by ParkedStar (1909314) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:24AM (#33856966)
    The...'beast'...has most probably NEVER encountered humans before...and I'm sure if I were a small animal who has lived most of my quiet existence never crossing the path of a 20-fingered, land-dwelling giant and suddenly found myself being strangled, dangling in the air in front of 2+ of these foreigners and kidnapped from my perfectly-fine home and family; I'd be questioning who the beast really is.
  • by nxcho (754392)
    I hope they name it Jozin.
  • It is coming right for us!
  • See .... the lochness monster is not that improbable ...

  • by Fizzol (598030) on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:29AM (#33857180)
    for Mokele-mbembe.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:35AM (#33857198) Homepage Journal

    Did they try wrapping towels around their heads to calm it down?

  • Madagascar 4 the wild beast of the lake - a homecoming story.

  • For those who didn't get the reference above to Jozin
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4aqM_wu6Ns [youtube.com]

  • To me, it looks like an African Dassie, which like cockroaches, will *never* go extinct. However, maybe it is the illusive Debianicus Ice Weaselius?
  • Ok... what the heck is an endangered lake? Aren't all lakes different and therefore "the last just like it", therefore endangered? If there's only one left of any species of animal that animal would be endangered, so wouldn't you say that every lake is endangered simply because it's the last and only of it's kind? Am I missing something?
    • Well, you go to be careful. When a lake is in danger, it will curl up into a ball and pee on your foot...
    • by sznupi (719324)

      A critter with only one living individual left isn't endangered, it's functionally extinct.

  • I imagine that whatever this is, it must be Old Greg [youtube.com].

    He doesn't like people playin' in his waters. He's gonna hurt you, he likes you, what do you think of him? Don't lie to him boy!

    He knows what you're thinking, he's Old Greg, he's a scaly man fish!

  • Durrell (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Monday October 11, 2010 @08:02AM (#33857974) Homepage Journal

    For what it's worth, Durrell wrote a number of fun books about Zoology and his explorations of the natural world. I'd recommend them as good beach reading or for young people interested in animals or natural sciences.

  • Dang. Reading the summary, I was all excited until they ruined it at the end by revealing that it was only "the size of a cat." Mondays are filled with disappointment.

  • they are talking about cats overseas which weigh 6 to 10 lbs not those supersize 20 lb cats that live in the usa.
    Im not talking about the superfat overfed cats in the US im talking about the generally larger breeds here in the US. The domestic
    cat breeds in Africa and asia tend to be quite a bit smaller and slender.

    When the article says that animal is as large as a cat, they mean a smaller african domestic cat.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      One other thing might be contributing greatly - this is an aquatic animal. Cats are furry; they become much slender and smaller when totally soaked.

  • It lives only in Madagascar, so no matter how nasty it is, it will be extinct in ten years.

  • to support your local cryptozoologist. [wikipedia.org]
  • Hell... (Score:2, Funny)

    by dvoecks (1000574)
    Jimmy Carter was attacked by a scarier-looking swamp beast than that!
  • We have a close-up of a feature of the animals jaw we call the "durellitzer" after the late Gerard Durrell. *shudder* poor man.

  • by UndyingShadow (867720) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:04PM (#33860618)
    New Carnivorous Beast Discovered? In Madagascar? SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING!

Nothing succeeds like success. -- Alexandre Dumas

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