IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Introduction to the original description

The recent Field Museum – Chicago Daily News Abyssinian Expedition obtained important collections of small and medium-sized mammals upon which a full report cannot be made at the present time. However, there is one outstanding novelty which is so distinct from known forms that a preliminary description may be given at once. This is a murine rodent with rather pronounced aquatic modifications which was found in a small mountain stream near the source of the Little Abbai or Blue Nile. Rodents with similar external modifications are known from other parts of the world, but heretofore the African continent has furnished nothing so nearly analogous to them as the animal here described. Its coloration as well as its thick soft pelage and its large hind feet are suggestive of the South American Ichthyomys, but its adaptations for aquatic life seem not to have proceeded quite so far as in that form. These adaptations are mainly in the character of the pelage, the reduction of the external ears and the enlargement of the hind feet. The skull shows certain interesting similarities to Ichthyomys and Hydromys, but otherwise is not greatly modified and may indicate derivation at no very remote period from some of the common types widely disributed in central Africa. The only other African rodent with aquatic adaptations is Dasymys, but this shows no especial affinity to the present genus, and doubtless the two had independent origins.


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