New Redheaded Opossum Named After Magical Gnome
The rat-size marsupial prowls the tropical rain forests of northern Brazil at night.
A chance finding at a Brazilian museum has revealed a brand-new species of opossum.
Biologist Silvia Pavan first discovered an unnamed mammal specimen with rich mahogany fur in 2008 at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi in Belém.
The rat-size marsupial's reddish head inspired its name: Monodelphis saci.
Brazilian folklore features a gnome called the saci (pronounced sah-SEE), who wears a magical red cap that lets him disappear and reappear at will. (See "Unbelievably Cute Mammal With Teddy Bear Face Rediscovered.")
Just like the saci, the new species of opossum has a red cap—and had been hiding in plain sight.
“I analyzed the specimen right away when it was brought to the museum, and I noticed it didn’t have a name,”