Leigh Kish, Media Relations Manager
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA, 15213
For Immediate Release
Contact: Leigh Kish 412.622.3361
March 9, 2006
About Laonastes aenigmamus
Laonastes aenigmamus (also known as Kha-nyou or Laotian Rock Rat) was first described as a new family of mammals in an article in early 2005. The genus name means "inhabitants of stone" because it is thought to live around limestone rocks. The species name means "enigmatic mouse" referring to its then unknown relationship among the rodent family.
First found for sale as meat in a market in the Khammouan region in 1996, no Western scientists have observed a specimen alive. Other specimens have been found from villagers and in an owl pellet.
Laonastidae resembles rats but is darker and longer with a haired thick tail. It is about 26 cm long with a 14 cm tail. They weighed approximately 400 g.
They are found in regions of karst limestone. It is believed they are nocturnal and primarily herbivores, eating leaves, grass and seeds.
Contact Leigh Kish for available images.