RU Professor Conducts First Surveys with Rwandan Colleague; Captures ‘Living Fossil’

Professor Julian Kerbis-Peterhans returned from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire) last August with approximately 1000 specimens of small birds and mammals, which he and colleagues collected in order to document aspects of Africa’s threatened biodiversity. Kerbis Peterhans initially spent one month in Rwanda with an all-Rwandan field team, conducting the first systematic surveys in Nyungwe National Park.

During the expedition the team captured the rare otter shrew, Micropotamogale ruwenzorii, a true ‘living fossil’ whose kin were around when dinosaurs walked the planet.

The rare otter shrew, a species which lived with the dinosaurs.

This rare species had been only known by a few specimens from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As a follow-up to this survey, Kerbis Peterhans, with the help of The Field Museum’s ‘Africa’ Council, brought a Rwandan colleague, Nicolas Ntare, to Chicago for a three-month internship where he will learn to prepare, catalogue, and identify the specimens collected. Ntare arrived in Chicago on February 12. Kerbis Peterhans and Ntare will continue to work together and eventually co-author a publication on the small mammal biodiversity of the park.

Ntare (far left), Kerbis Peterhans (back left), and the rest of the Rwandan field team take a break and enjoy the local cuisine.

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