In the remote Cyclops Mountains of Indonesia, scientists from Oxford University recently made a remarkable discovery, uncovering a mammal that had been lost for over six decades: Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna. This elusive creature, with spines resembling a hedgehog, an anteater-like snout, and mole-like feet, was captured on trail cameras during a four-week expedition led by the team. The joy and relief expressed by biologist James Kempton, part of the expedition, were palpable on the last day of their journey. The echidna, a member of the monotremes group that diverged from the mammal family tree around 200 million years ago, lays eggs, making it a unique find. Scientifically recorded in 1961, this shy and nocturnal species proved challenging to locate, and the team faced various hurdles, including an earthquake, malaria, and an eyeball-leech encounter.

The discovery carries cultural significance in the region, as the echidna is deeply woven into local traditions. The Yongsu Sapari elders shared a tradition where conflicts are resolved by sending one party into the forest to find the echidna and another to the ocean to locate a marlin. According to locals, the simultaneous discovery of both creatures symbolizes the end of conflict and a return to harmonious relationships. This rare find not only emphasizes the importance of conservation efforts but also sheds light on the unique biodiversity present in the Cyclops Mountains of Indonesia.