"Indian spotted chevrotain Moschiola indica Mouse deer from the Anaimalai hills" by PJeganathan / CC BY-SA 4.0

A Tiny Species That Looks Part-Deer, Part-Mouse Was Missing for Nearly 30 Years. Scientists Just Found It.

Nov 11, 2019

By Yasemin Saplakoglu

A tiny creature that looks part-deer, part-mouse hadn’t been seen in nearly 30 years. Now, with a series of camera traps, researchers have caught the silver-backed chevrotain, also called the Vietnam mouse-deer, meandering about its tree-filled home.

With the distinguishing silver line down its back that starts just behind its shoulders, the silver-backed chevrotain (Tragulus versicolor) looks a bit like a deer, but it’s the size of a large house cat. The species is thought to be endemic to Vietnam and was first described in the early 20th century and again in 1990. Since then, the silver-backed chevrotain had been “missing.”

“There was no reason to think that it was extinct, but at the same time, we didn’t know that it wasn’t extinct,” said Andrew Tilker, an officer of Asian species at Global Wildlife Conservation and a doctoral student at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin. “No scientist or naturalist had any idea whether it was still out there,” added Tilker, who was a senior author of a new study describing the findings.

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