Are there still mammals unknown to human beings? A latest study says that hundreds of unidentified species of mammals are “hiding across the world. The study claimed that these hidden mammals are small-bodied such as bats, rodents, shrews and moles.
The researchers from Ohio University points out that these mammals are hidden because most of them are small and look so much like known animals that biologists have not been able to recognize that they are a different species.
Small, subtle differences in appearance are harder to notice when you’re looking at a tiny animal that weighs 10 grams than when you’re looking at something that is humanised,” said study co-author Bryan Carstens of The Ohio State University,
The US National Science Foundation-supported team, led by Ohio State researcher Danielle Parsons held the study.
The researchers used a supercomputer and machine-learning techniques to analyse the publicly available gene sequences from 4,310 mammal species, as well as data on where the animals live, their environment, life history and other relevant information.
Peter McCartney, a program director in NSF’s Division of Biological Infrastructure said that modem computational approaches such as those used in the study to integrate multiple data sets offer exciting potential to extract new information from existing data through meta-analyses like this one.
That allowed the scientists to build a model to identify the taxa of mammals that are likely to contain hidden specie, McCartney added.
Carstens said that only an estimated one per cent to ten per cent of Earth’s species have been formally described by researchers. A conservative estimate would be that there are hundreds of species of mammals worldwide that have yet to be identified as per their analysis, ” That finding would not be surprising to biologists,” he said.
“What we did that’s new is predict where these new species are most likely to be found,” Carstens said. The researchers’ model also predicts that hidden species would most likely be discovered in species that have wider geographic ranges with higher variability in temperature and precipitation. Many of the hidden species are also likely to occur in tropical rainforests, which is not surprising because that’s where high numbers of mammal species are found. But unidentified species are also likely living in the U.S., Carstens said.