Machu Picchu park guards spot believed-to-be-extinct Machu Picchu Arboreal Chinchilla Rat

Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu park guards caught a glimpse – and cell phone photos – of the believed-to-be-extinct and never-to-be-seen Machu Picchu Arboreal Chinchilla Rat, known only from two skulls found at Inca burial sites in the region.

“When I saw the photo, I got chills,” said biologist Julio Ochoa. “They took about 40 photos of the rodent near the Wiñay Huayna watch post,” located approximately 5 kilometers southeast of the world famous citadel of Machu Picchu.

The park guards who found the rodent reported that it was injured. After nursing it for three days, they then set it free, unaware of its scientific importance.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Machu Picchu Arboreal Chinchilla Rat, or Cuscomys oblativus, was assessed as extinct in 2008.

“This species is listed as Extinct because it is only known from two old skulls estimated to be around 400 years old collected at an Inca burial site. It has not been located during any surveys,” reports the Red List.

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