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Silver-backed chevrotain discovered after 30 years


Last updated 11/29/2019 at 12:54pm

Courtesy photo

A camera trap photo of a silver -backed chevrotain, a deer-like creature thought to have been lost to science nearly 30 years ago was recently rediscovered.

November has proven to be a very important month for Global Wildlife Conservation.

In South Vietnam, November 12, 2019 the silver-backed chevrotain, once thought extinct, was rediscovered for the first time in roughly 30 years by Global Wildlife Conservation and partners Southern Institute of Ecology and Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research.

The silver-backed chevrotain (a French word meaning "little goat), also called a deer-mouse, is a deer like species that is the size of a rabbit or small cat. They are the smallest hoofed mammal in the world (a.k.a. even-toed ungulate) and the oldest living representative of early ruminants.

There are 10 extant species of chevrotain that make up the family Tragulidae which are placed in three genera. Two genera are acknowledged: true chevrotain is represented by one species in Africa (Hyemoschus aquaticus); the mouse deer by three species in Asia (Tragulus napu, T. javanicus, and T. meminna). Throughout the Eocene, some 54–38 million years in the past (mya), Artiodactyls radiated into numerous households. Although several species are only known from fossils, some dating as far back as the Oligocene age (34 million years ago), through the Miocene age (about 5 million years ago).

The species was first described by scientist in 1910 after 4 specimens were collected around Nha Trang, there were no other scientifically verified records to be found until 1990 after a single animal was confiscated from a hunter,

Courtesy photo

A pair of chevrotain recently photographed by a wildlife camera. Chevrotains tend to live alone or in pairs.

Through-out all this time the chevrotain has remained largely unchanged and are an example of primitive ruminant form (mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion,). They feed primarily on plants and have 4-chambered stomachs to help ferment tough plant food before digestion. They do not have upper incisors and give birth to only one young at a time.

They have distinguishing features such as quick, slender legs; even toes (4); a small, pointed head; a tapered snout; giant eyes; slit-like nostrils; and medium-sized rounded ears coated with a skinny layer of hair.

Both male and female chevrotains have enlarged higher canines that protrude downward from the mouth. Although in the females they are small, the male chevrotains combat with the tusk-like tooth.

The silver-backed chevrotain is the first mammal to be rediscovered on the list of 25 most wanted lost species. Now scientists must determine how large and stable the population is and understand the threats to it's survival. All the information gathered will help to develop and implement a plan of action that will help strengthen and protect the species.


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