Biodiversity challenge – Kha-nyou

Not squirrel kin

Eleven million years extinct,
Then resurrected
On a market stall
In Laos;
Not squirrel,
Rat or mouse,
But unconnected,
Evolutionarily distinct;
Unique,
A living fossil,
Sole surviving
Member of a clique
First founded
Two score million years ago
Or more,
Surrounded
By a sea of strangers;
Cast adrift,
A rodent race apart
Upon your running wheel
For one;
Can you imagine
How alone you’d feel?
Well, kha-nyou?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Kha-nyou

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

Discovered by scientists visiting a market in Laos in 2005, the kha-nyou, or Laotian rock rat, is an example of a living fossil. The sole surviving member of an ancient group of rodents thought to have gone extinct some 11 million years ago, the kha-nyou is like no other species of mammal, having separated from its closest living relatives 44 million years ago. Its bizarre combination of features – long snout, small ears and bushy tail – have earned it the nickname ‘rat-squirrel’. Known only from a single area of limestone karst in Laos, the kha-nyou is threatened by hunting and habitat loss.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s