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National Geographic

Rodents Of Unusual Size And Other Such Discoveries

In the middle of nowhere on an island in the middle of the ocean, a small team of explorers — including but not limited to Smithsonian scientists, native hunters and a Dutch monk — recently made a smorgasbord of biological discoveries. Just as we start to think that we've seen it all, they're presenting the spike-nosed tree frog and rodents of unusual size (i.e., the woolly giant rat).

An aerial view shows the Foja Mountains rainforest, on the Indonesian island of New Guinea. Tim Laman/National Geographic hide caption

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Tim Laman/National Geographic

An aerial view shows the Foja Mountains rainforest, on the Indonesian island of New Guinea.

Tim Laman/National Geographic

Those obscure findings were made during a three-week biological expedition in the remote Foja Mountains rain forest of New Guinea, funded by the National Geographic Society. Many were photographed by wildlife photojournalist Tim Laman, and you can find them in this month's magazine. In some cases, Laman set up cameras with triggers in the middle of the forest — so as to automatically capture, for example, the ever-elusive golden-mantled tree kangaroo. Other photos were more like carefully composed taxonomic surveys.

The team spent almost the entire expedition soaked with rain, peeling off leeches and warding off maggots — but the resulting photos and story have a real sense of adventure and discovery, showing just how much uncharted territory is still out there, and how much more we have to learn.

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