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Rodent seen for first time in 113 years

This red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis), a guinea-pig-sized rodent not seen since 1898 and thought perhaps to be extinct, is seen at the El Dorado Nature Reserve in Colombia, South America on May 4, 2011. UPI/Lizzie Noble/ProAves
This red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis), a guinea-pig-sized rodent not seen since 1898 and thought perhaps to be extinct, is seen at the El Dorado Nature Reserve in Colombia, South America on May 4, 2011. UPI/Lizzie Noble/ProAves | License Photo

SANTA MARTA, Colombia, May 18 (UPI) -- A mysterious South American rodent, not seen since 1898 despite many searches, appeared at the front door of a nature reserve in Colombia, researchers said.

The red-crested tree rat, Santamartamys rufodorsalis, stayed at the reserve for almost 2 hours while two researchers snapped pictures of a creature scientists thought might never be seen again, a release from the American Bird Conservancy said Wednesday.

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The nocturnal rodent revealed itself to the world on May 4 at the El Dorado Nature Reserve in the far north of Colombia.

The animal was rediscovered by Lizzie Noble and Simon McKeown, two volunteer researchers at the reserve monitoring endangered amphibians.

It posed for photographs, including close-ups, before calmly ambling back into the forest, they said.

"He just shuffled up the handrail near where we were sitting and seemed totally unperturbed by all the excitement he was causing," Noble, from Godalming, England, said.

"We are absolutely delighted to have rediscovered such a wonderful creature after just a month of volunteering," she said.

"Clearly the El Dorado Reserve has many more exciting discoveries waiting."

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