A new type of toothless rat that feasts on earthworms

Newly discovered 'toothless' rat Paucidentomys vermidax Credit: PA Wire

A new species of rat has been discovered that cannot gnaw or chew. It looks a bit like a shrew and is called Paucidentomys vermidax.

It has fang-like upper incisors which are useless for gnawing and no back teeth. It survives exclusively on earthworms.

The creature was found in remote rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

It shares some characteristics with insectivorous shrew rats from the Philippines but has taken an evolutionary step further by completely dispensing with chewing molars.

The discovery represents a new step in rodent evolution Credit: PA Wire
  • The creature has a rat-like tail but a long, thin nose similar to a shrew's

  • Its only teeth are its incisors, which in the upper jaw end in twin points

  • The Latin derived genus name Paucidentomys means "few-toothed mouse" and the species name vermidax means "devourer of worms"