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New Discovery: Porcupine Species Identified in Brazil

Picture of porcupine

The Coendou porcupines, also known as prehensile-tailed porcupines are nocturnal, herbivorous, solitary rodents native to Central and South America. Photograph by Hugo Fernandes Ferreira.

One prickly subject you can always discuss in public? Porcupines.

And now they’ll make a good conversation starter because a new porcupine species has been identified in Brazil. Biologists Anderson Feijó and Alfredo Langguth of the Federal University of Paraíba identified Coendou baturitensis, or the Baturite porcupine, in a study published in Revista Nordestina de Biologia.

The habitat of the not-so-cuddly new creature is the Brejos de Altitude forests in the mountainous Baturite Range, which is located in the Brazilian state of Ceará. The fragmented, humid forests are in an area that Feijó said is in need of protection from deforestation.

A Spiky Experiment

The researchers based their discovery of the new species on the remains of two porcupine specimens found several decades apart, in 1954 and in 2012. They examined the older specimen first, which had been classified as the Brazilian porcupine.

When they compared it to the newer specimen from the Baturite Range, they found that some characteristics of the quills and skull were “unique to these animals [and] had not been found in any other so far,” Feijó said. The quills remain preserved under the right conditions, he added. (Related: “Why Porcupine Quills Go in Easily but Are Hard to Pull Out.”)

The newly identified Baturite porcupine is now the seventh known species of prehensile-tailed porcupine, which is native to Central and South America. They’re herbivores and adept climbers that rest in tree canopies during the day and forage at night. They can use their tails for grasping (kinkajous, spider monkeys, and opossums also have prehensile tails).

In the study, the authors describe the newfound porcupine as “a medium sized species, with body densely covered with tricolor quills.” What sets it apart from the Brazilian porcupine is the color pattern of its quills, a “darker general appearance of the body,” and its broad snout and big, soft, bulbous nose.

The study does not go so far as to say it’s cute as a button despite its prickly exterior. But try not to get stuck on that.

Follow Liz Langley on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Kaisa Laihonen
    Suomi
    January 23, 3:28 am

    Precious thing. I bet there’s people already making plans how to catch them and sell them as pets for the rich.

  2. Carla
    January 2, 8:33 am

    I imagine how many other new creatures there are to be discovered…

  3. Buddy H
    Bandung west java
    December 31, 2013, 8:49 pm

    I love that picture that tree porcupine

  4. Kenneth Lane
    United States
    December 30, 2013, 4:55 am

    While we humans spend our wealth exploring far distant planets we overlook what is right before our eyes–think there is a proper name for this form of stupidity—-

  5. Ross
    December 29, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Know

  6. Ross
    Toronto
    December 29, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Cute as only a mother would inow.

  7. srinivasareddy k
    polavaram,india
    December 16, 2013, 8:13 am

    Very beautiful then us

  8. Greg
    Iowa
    December 15, 2013, 10:39 pm

    Whatever it is, it’s not as dangerous as this monkey! http://vimeo.com/81835169

  9. Ghansham Ojha
    Karimnagar-(A.P), INDIA.
    December 15, 2013, 5:43 am

    Well Said @Liz Langleyji. Glad to see the pic and welcome new living being. may GOD bless you. JAI BHARATH…

  10. Paula
    Australia
    December 15, 2013, 5:11 am

    It is amazing, the fact that such a creature has only being discovered now…. I find it difficult to believe.

  11. The Punisher
    Brasil
    December 14, 2013, 8:46 pm

    It’s a spetacular discovery. The planet at the edge of its own destruction we still have new things to see. Greetings from Brasil.

  12. Sunny
    Pakistan
    December 14, 2013, 2:27 pm

    its one cute creature!
    but as i see it, its hands are coming out from the spiky area of its body. It might hurt its own self sometimes like that.. i guess..

  13. kelly
    Ireland
    December 14, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Cute wouldn’t want a cuddle though

  14. Liz Langley
    December 14, 2013, 1:40 pm

    Thank you @Eileen!
    Agreed – and I love the photo. Look at those amazing hands!

  15. yasser arfath
    nilgris
    December 14, 2013, 10:07 am

    wow, This is not only a ‘Great job’!!!!

  16. Claudio Lopez
    December 14, 2013, 10:05 am

    Hace dos años lo vi al norte de Venezuela, no solo se encuentra en Brazil

  17. Joan
    bcn
    December 14, 2013, 6:14 am

    Meh… a new animal to exploit or extinguish…

  18. Lumpungu Josue
    Kolwezi
    December 14, 2013, 2:14 am

    I’m amazed to that. The more we discover, the more we realise that there Someone who knoe everything he created ….
    Who is He? Jehovah that’s his name Revelation 4:11

  19. Eileen
    December 12, 2013, 10:42 am

    Delightful post.. it’s such a wonderful thing to see that we are still discovering the beauty of our planet.