Scientists Identify Four New Species of Tuco-Tucos

Posted on July 21, 2014

Ctenomys lewisi tuco tuco

Scientists have identified four new species of tuco-tuco in Bolivia. The research team was led by Scott Gardner from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Tuco-tucos are gopher-like mammals that make burrows for homes. They range in size as adults from 7 to 12 inches (.2 to .3 meters) and weigh about 1 pound (0.45 kilograms).

The researchers say the high ridges that create deep river valleys in central Bolivia have aided the development of different tuco-tuco species through geographic isolation. The four new tuco-tuco species include Ctenomys erikacuellarae (Erika's tuco-tuco), Ctenomys andersoni (Anderson's cujuchi), Ctenomys lessai (Lessa's tuco-tuco) and Ctenomys yatesi (Yates' tuco-tuco). There are about 65 tuco-tuco species in South America. Bolivia has twelve of them with the four newly identified species. The tuco-tuco pictured above is a Ctenomys lewisi, a species that had already been identified.

Tuco-tucos dig complex burrows using their claws and their teeth. These burrows feature long branching tunnels and include a main tunnel that is longer than 46 feet (14 meters). They reportedly make a loud "tuc-tuc" noise which is where the tuco-tuco name comes from.

Gardner said in a statement, "The area from which these mammals were collected is still relatively unknown in a biological sense, even though this is the eastern foothills of the Andes, with among the highest level of biodiversity anywhere."

A research paper on the new species was published here in the Special Publications from the Museum of Text Tech University.

Photo: Scott Gardner/University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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