Scientists have discovered a new species of animals, which they identified by screaming. They are usually very difficult to track down.
Loud cries of tree hyraxes – small herbivorous mammals – are heard at night in the forests of West and Central Africa. However, the researchers noticed that their sound differs depending on where they live.
Arboreal gyraxes that live between the Volta and Niger rivers emit a barking sound that differs from the screams of the gyraxes found in other regions of the forest zone of Africa.
Screaming gyraxes are a separate species, new research suggests. A recently described species, Dendrohyrax interfluvialis, inhabits wet and dry forests located between two rivers in the coastal regions of southeastern Ghana, southern Togo and Benin, and southwestern Nigeria.
Adult tree hyraxes usually weigh between 2.2 and 3 kilograms, about the size of a groundhog. They are usually active at night and live in trees, but they are difficult to study – unlike most nocturnal mammals in Africa, their eyes do not glow at night, making them difficult to detect, the researchers explain.
“Sometimes a keen ear is just as important as a keen eye,” the researchers noted. “All the evidence we subsequently examined, including the distinctive vocalizations, points to the existence of a unique species in the forests between Niger and Volta.”