A three-week expedition into the heart of an extinct volcano in Papua New Guinea has produced some truly remarkable results, with the discovery of a significant number of previously unknown species of frog, insects, fish, birds, and mammals. A team from the BBC Natural History Unit led by climber and naturalist, Steve Backshall, wildlife cameraman, Gordon Buchanan, and head scientist, Dr George McGavin, made the descent into the three-kilometre wide by one kilometre-deep crater of Mount Bosavi to find an estimated forty new species, including sixteen new species of frogs, at least twenty new species of insects, a new cuscus (since named the Bosavi Silky Cuscus), three new species of a fish, and what is thought to be a new species of bat.
“Highlights include a camouflaged gecko, a fanged frog and a fish called the Henamo Grunter, so named because it makes grunting noises from its swim bladder,” said Steve Greenwood, producer of the BBC series, Lost Land of the Volcano, for which the expedition was commissioned. Also of particular interest is the giant cat-sized rat, which was discovered with the help of an infrared camera. Yet to be given its scientific name, the Bosavi Woolly Rat reaches 82 centimetres from nose to tail, and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms, making it one of the largest rat species ever found.
So you might be feeling a little bit bewildered right now, Bosavi Woolly Rat, having never seen people before and now all of a sudden you meet them and they adore you. But I think you should know that in terms of rats, you’re kind of an anomaly. People generally don’t like your kind, my giant rodent friend. You give them the creeps and they sort of assume you’re out to infect them with diseases, chew through their floorboards, or gnaw their babies’ faces off in their sleep. And I know that all sounds horrible to you and of course you’d never dream of doing anything of the sort because you are very much the gentleman, Bosavi Woolly Rat, but people can be odd sometimes.
All I’m saying is just don’t be surprised when you get the usual dinner party invitations that newly-discovered (or rediscovered) species get these days, and you ask if you can bring your partner and her five or six daughters along, the host will be somewhat reluctant. She’ll “umm and ahh…” a lot before responding delicately that she’d so love to have everyone along, but she only knows how to make enough pie for five guests, and even then she’d be improvising a little and she gets very anxious when she deviates from the recipe, you know? And before you can tell her that you’re sure your rat partner and her girls would be more than happy to bring a couple of extra pies, she’ll say something about call waiting and be like, “So glad you understand. Can’t wait to see you, just you, tonigh- Oh that must be the caterers. Bye, dear.”
Then pretty soon it’s the weekend and you’ll just want to get your rat rave on with a bunch of your rat friends at some sick club because it’s been a hectic week with the whole ‘being discovered’ and ‘new species’ thing. You’ll invite the guys over to your place for drinks and shit and then you’ll all saunter up to the club a few hours later, the lot of you, but as soon as the door guy sees you he’ll be like, “Oh hell no!” And you’ll politely assure him, “We’re not going to cause any trouble, sir. But it’s Friday night and we just want to unwind.” But he’ll be impervious to your woolly charm and be all, “Well you’re going to need at least two ladies for every one of you before I’ll even consider letting your mangy arses pay a lot of money to come in here.” And being the reasonable rat you are, Bosavi Woolly Rat, you’ll turn to the guys and be like, “Yeah that’s cool, we can find some ladies. We’ll be back soon!”
“Oh.” And knowing full well the task required of you would be near impossible to achieve, you’ll slink back home, defeated and disappointed, having been unable to acquire any kind of rave to call your own.
You’ll try to make reservations at restaurants, Bosavi Woolly Rat, but when you turn up they’ll tell you they made a mistake and already gave your table away. A well-dressed lady in the corner wearing pearls will likely scream and scramble up onto the table. You’ll all go to the beach and everyone else will edge their umbrellas away and then throw your towels into the ocean when you go for a swim. You’ll go to the movies to see a film that’s been out for months already but the ticket girl will tell you it’s all sold out and when you sigh dejectedly as an enormous rat group she’ll tell you it wasn’t any good anyway. And neither are any of the other films they’re currently showing.
Yeah, it’s going to be tough for you and your rodent friends, Bosavi Woolly Rat, out in the real world. But just remember, as unpopular as a bunch of rats might be to most people, a bunch of camouflaged jungle spiders will always be far more unpopular. No one’s going to consider inviting even one of them over for dinner at their house, so that’s something, right?