Totes Adorbs, and Totes Not Extinct: Rare Echidna Spotted on Camera

Nov 15, 2023

Tiny, chubby, and spiky, Zaglossus attenboroughi looks more like a stuffed animal than a revolutionary animal discovery. Yet the cute mammal, also known by its common name, Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna, has scientists around the world cheering.

The charming little critter isn’t extinct after all.

"I was (thrilled), the whole team was (thrilled)," James Kempton told the BBC News.  He's a biologist at the University of Oxford. He led the voyage into the Cyclops Mountains of Indonesia’s Papua region. There, the little echidna was captured on film.

"I'm not joking when I say it came down to the very last SD card that we looked at, from the very last camera that we collected, on the very last day of our (trip),” Kempton said.

The black-and-white footage shared by Kempton’s team shows the echidna bumbling through the woods. It was likely on its way to wuffle up some worms. (That's its favorite food.) As stated in the team’s press release, the creature “has the spines of a hedgehog, the snout of an anteater, and the feet of a mole.” The video is the first evidence scientists have seen of the creature since 1961. It had been declared extinct.

The echidna is named after naturalist Sir David Attenborough. The 97-year-old was informed of the echidna’s existence at once. He stated that he was very thrilled by the find.

Kempton hopes the find speeds efforts to protect the echidna’s rainforest home. "Given so much of that rainforest hasn't been explored, what else is out there?” he told the BBC. He added that the long-beaked echidna is a symbol of what we need to protect. 

Photo courtesy Cyclops Expedition 2023.

Reflect: What are some ways we can help protect and preserve the habitats of unique and lesser-known animals in our world?

The author’s main purpose for writing the story is to _______. (Common Core RI.5.6; RI.6.6)
a. entertain readers with a fictional narrative
b. inform and celebrate the rediscovery of a thought-to-be-extinct animal
c. educate readers about the characteristics of echidnas
d. criticize the scientific community's lack of exploration in remote regions
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