Monthly Archives: January 2015

New Discoveries: Tuco-tuco

Did you know that we are still discovering new species?

Over a period of posts, I will go through a few new discoveries from 2014…

Four new species of Tuco-tuco (small rodent) has been discovered in Bolivia in 2014. The Tuco-tuco is named after the “tuc tuc” vocalisation they make. There were thought to be eight species of Tuco-tuco in Bolivia; but with these new discoveries there are now twelve species of this little rodent species in this area. There are around 65 species scattered throughout South America.

They are classified as Mammals, of the order Rodent, and the genus Ctenomys. They are a small burrowing rodent, with large front teeth. Their closest relative is thought to be the Degu.

The Tuco-tuco is a herbivore, primarily feeding on grass. As well as grazing; grass (and other vegetation) is collected, and stored in burrows.

The Tuco-tuco measures between 18-30cm long, and weighs less than half a kilogram! They are fairly sedentary by nature (couch-potatoes if it was you or me!); however some species are social, others are not. They are a diurnal species – meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk, and spend a lot of time above ground compared to most rodent species.

Open source Google image


Smallest Species – Cetacea; Dolphin and Whale

Maui’s Dolphin – the smallest dolphin in the world
  • A sub-species of the very small Hector’s Dolphin
  • They only live in New Zealand’s shallow coastal waters
  • This little species is at risk of becoming extinct
  • Approximately only 55 individuals left in the wild
  • Fully grown the Maui’s dolphin is between 1.2-1.4m long
  • Adults weigh approximately 50kg
  • The lifespan of the Maui’s dolphin is around 20 years
  • Calves are 50-60cm in length when born; large compared to their mother
  • Grey/black colouration, with white stripes along their sides, and a white underside
  • Only one single calf is born every 2-4 years; this means they are struggling to increase in number naturally, let alone after human poaching
  • Most of its time is spent feeding; however there is always time to play with seaweed, chase other dolphins, blow bubbles, and jump
Maui's Dolphin - image is open source
Maui’s Dolphin – open source Google image
Dwarf Sperm Whale – the smallest whale in the world
  • A sub-species of the Sperm Whale
  • They are blue-grey in colour, with a lighter underside
  • The Dwarf Sperm Whale is a protected species, although they are not considered under threat
  • They prefer warm tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters
  • Females can have a single calf each year
  • Calves are born measuring 1.0-1.2m in length
  • Fully grown, this whale reaches up to 2.7m in length
  • Adults weigh approximately 180-270kg
  • Their lifespan of the is around 22-25 years
  • Typically a solitary species, however can be found travelling in small pods (groups)
  • Fishing nets and marine debris are the biggest human threats to this species
Dwarf Sperm Whale (mother and calf) - open source image
Dwarf Sperm Whale (mother and calf) – open source Google image