A rare egg-laying mammal named after Sir David Attenborough – which had been lost for more than 60 years – has been captured on video for the first time. An expedition team has rediscovered Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna, an animal that had previously only been recorded once by science in 1961.
It was captured for the first time in photos and video footage using remote trail cameras set up in the Cyclops Mountains of Indonesia’s Papua Province.The elusive animal has the spines of a hedgehog, the snout of an anteater, and the feet of a mole.
Because of its hybrid appearance, it shares its name with a creature of Greek mythology that is half human, half serpent.
The creatures are nocturnal, and so are notoriously difficult to spot.Additionally, Attenborough’s echidna is currently classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.However, after four weeks, on the last day of Expedition Cyclops, with the last images on the final memory card, the team obtained their shots of the elusive mammal – the first-ever photographs of Attenborough’s echidna.
Dr James Kempton, department of Biology at University of Oxford, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “When we discovered it, there was initially just this great sense of relief.
“Because this expedition was three-and-a-half years of planning and we’d seen signs of the echidna or in the field, the holes that it makes when it forages, but no pictures until that very final day.”