Introducing the hog-nosed rat! With a nose like a pig and an impressive mane of pubic hair (yes, you read that right), this newly discovered species is certainly unique. Found in 2013 by an international research team working in the remote mountains of Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island, Hyorhinomys stuempkei was previously undocumented in any scientific collection.

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The hog-nosed rat was going for cute, but missed the mark a bit. Image © Museum Victoria

True to its unglamorous name, the hog-nosed rat has a large, flat nose with forward-facing nostrils that resembles a pig’s snout. Add a tiny mouth opening, long hind legs and ears, big white incisors (most rodents have yellow teeth), and very long urogenital (pubic) hairs. In fact, it’s so genetically different from other species, that this little piggy-rat has earned its own genus (that’s a step above species … if "species" is a Golden Globe, "genus" is an Oscar).

Researchers have also concluded that the unusual rat is probably more of a slurper than a chewer. The absence of muscles for chewing suggest that the hog-nosed rat sucks up its invertebrate prey rather than munching on it.

“To Australians, Hyorhinomys is a bit like a rat version of a bandicoot, with long hindlimbs, huge ears and a long, pointed face perfect for slurping up invertebrate prey,” says Dr Kevin Rowe, a researcher based at Museum Victoria.

Related to a group of carnivorous rodents from Sulawesi called “shrew rats”, the new mammal is both genetically and anatomically distinct. ”The hog-nosed rat is exciting for us because it extends the diversity of an already amazing group of rodents that are only found on the island of Sulawesi,” Dr Rowe says. “Even though there are only eight species in this endemic group, they exhibit a huge ... range, including small gray rats, a nearly toothless vermivore, an amphibious rat and now a long-limbed, hog-nosed rat.”

The international team responsible for the find is no stranger to new discoveries: this will be their third new genus described since 2012 (save some animals for the rest of the scientific community, guys!). Despite their impressive track record, Dr Rowe still remains in awe of the new discovery. “There are millions of species on this earth that are yet to be discovered and described, but I am still amazed that we can walk into a forest and find a new species of mammal that is so obviously different from any species, or even genus, that has ever been documented by science.”

The discovery is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Mammalogy.

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The hog-nosed rat was found in a trap in Mount Dako, Indonesia. Image © Museum Victoria
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 Smiling for the camera ... Image © Museum Victoria
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As soon as mammologists from Museum Victoria set eyes on the trapped specimen, they knew they had found something unique. Image © Museum Victoria
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The new rodent has features never before seen by science. Image © Museum Victoria