New species of mammal found by Durham researcher
An archaeozoologist has stumbled across a new species of mouse – the first to be found in Europe in more than a century.
Mus cypriacus was found in Cyprus by Dr Thomas Cucchi, a research fellow at Durham University. Mus cypriacus has a bigger head, ears, eyes and teeth to other European mice.
Dr Cucchi was working in Cyprus examining archaeological remains of mice teeth from the Neolithic period and comparing them with those of four known modern day European mice species, to determine if the house mouse was the unwelcome guest of the human colonisation of the island 10,000 years ago.
Dr Cucchi said: “To understand the origin of this new mouse I compared its teeth morphology with the ones of fossils mice collected by palaeontologists. This comparison revealed that this mouse colonised and adapted to the Cypriot environment several thousand years before the arrival of man.” The new mouse of Cyprus is the only native Cypriot rodent still alive, and as such can be considered as a ‘living fossil’.