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Lazarus species: 13 'extinct' animals found alive

By: Bryan Nelson on Nov. 5, 2009, 12:43 p.m.
Laotian rock rat

Photo: David Redfield/WWF

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Laotian rock rat

This species was first discovered for sale as meat at a market in Thakhek, Khammouan, in Laos in 1996, and was considered so unusual and distinct from any other living rodent that it was given its own family. Then in 2006, after a systematic reanalysis, the Laotian rock rat was reclassified — incredibly — to belong to an ancient fossil family that was thought to have gone extinct 11 million years ago. Return trips to Laos by the Wildlife Conservation Society have uncovered several other specimens, raising hopes that the animal may not be as rare as once thought.