Wildlife experts believe they have found Europe's first new terrestrial mammal species in years on the island of Cyprus, and it's a humble mouse.
NICOSIA -- Wildlife experts believe they have found Europe's first new terrestrial mammal species in years on the island of Cyprus, and it's a humble mouse.
The Mus cypriacus has a larger head, teeth and a longer tail than its peer, the Mus musculous, the common house mouse.
"Based on our DNA analysis we believe it has been around for perhaps half a million years," said Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis, a wildlife biologist at the Cypriot Ministry of Interior.
It was discovered during research into the feeding habits of barn owls. Its lower jawbone did not match those of other mice, said Hadjisterkotis.
"The discovery is a first for Cyprus. As far as mammals in the rest of Europe are concerned, just about everything else had been discovered," said Hadjisterkotis.
Thomas Cucchi of the University of Durham in Britain told the Times newspaper: "New mammal species are mainly discovered in hotspots of biodiversity like South East Asia and it was generally believed that every species of mammal in Europe had been identified.
"This is why the discovery of a new species of mouse on Cyprus was so unexpected and exiting."