Vietnamese Mouse Deer: No Longer Lost To Science

The silver-backed chevrotain hadn't been photographed or studied by scientists in 30 years. (Photo by: Southern Institute of Ecology/Global Wildlife Conservation/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research/NCNP)

Scientists Thought This Fanged, Cat-Sized Deer Was Gone for Good—Now It’s Been Found Again in Vietnam

by Melissa Locker,

The so-called Vietnamese mouse-deer is an odd-looking creature. The cat-sized critter has a half-silver and half-auburn coat, beady eyes, spindly legs, and a pointed face that does indeed look like a cross between a mouse and a deer—but with fangs. Yes, the mouse-deer is a bit of a weirdo, but that’s not why biologists were shocked to see one on a trail camera.

The Vietnamese mouse-deer—technically called a silver-backed chevrotain (Tragulus versicolor)—has been lost to science for years. No Western biologist had seen one—dead or alive—for more than 30 years. (Researchers obtained dead silver-backed chevrotains in 1990. It was first described by scientists in 1907.) Scientists were concerned that due to poaching, wire snares, and habitat destruction, the creature had vanished from the face of the earth, reports Katherine J. Wu for Nova.

In 2008, the nonprofit group Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) launched a campaign called the Search for Lost Species with the mission to scour the world for 1,200 species that are lost to science, meaning the animals haven’t been photographed, documented or studied for many years and are “feared possibly extinct.” Of those, GWC has a 25 “most wanted” species list that included the silver-backed chevrotain.

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