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Machu Picchu's chinchilla rat found alive and well

Scientists in Peru have tracked down a species of rat long thought to be extinct on the thickly-forested slopes near Machu Picchu.

The arborial chinchilla rat was found near the famous Inca settlement of Machu Picchu Credit: REUTERS/Benjamin Dell Orto

The arboreal chinchilla rat, which is the size of a cat and looks like a particularly fluffy dormouse, was previously known only through two skulls found in some 400-year-old pottery.

In 2009, a park ranger reported that he had seen an animal matching the description, but not until now have scientists been able to confirm the discovery.

They say the creature's future is threatened by habitat loss, but add that it is afforded some protection by the Machu Picchu national park.