Type of animal: Semi-aquatic, insectivorous rat
Description: Dense gray-brown fur; small eyes and ears; long tail equipped with whiskers to aid in swimming
Sulawesi Island, Indonesia
Fun fact: Although physically similar to water rats from nearby countries, W. mamasae is genetically more similar to the land rats of Sulawesi — meaning it evolved the same traits as other water rats without descending from the same line, via convergent evolution.
It represents not only a new species, but an entirely new genus. Yet it’s not new to everyone: The people of Mamasa (the species’s namesake) have long used the rat as a talisman to ward their homes against fire.