Luzon Island in the Philippines is home to the world's highest concentration of unique mammals, according to a 15-year survey published in the journal Frontiers of Biogeography by a team of Filipino and American researchers.
The team found that of the 56 non-flying mammals on the island, 52 can't be found anywhere else on the planet. About half the 56 species were new discoveries made during the study.
In isolation, islands tend to be evolutionary hotbeds, where the relative lack of competition or predators leads to adaptations that eventually result in new species. Into the bargain, Luzon Island -- at 40,000 square miles, the Philippines' largest -- is shrouded in mountain cover, which creates, the scientists say, "sky islands" that prompt further adaptation.
Let's take a look at some of the finds, starting above, with Soricomys montanus, the Cordillera shrew-mouse. The small mouse lives only in mossy forest at high elevations on the northern part of the island. It searches through leaves on the forest floor seeking out its food of choice: earthworms. In all, the team discover 5 such worm-eating shrew-mice.
Credit: Field Museum