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Rare Mouse Opossum Named After UW-Oshkosh Biology Professor

Monday, December 13th, 2021 -- 8:17 AM

(WBAY) It’s been twenty years since University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh biology professor Greg Adler caught a mysterious mouse opossum in the jungle of Panama, but he still remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I remember distinctly catching it. It was a long time ago, but I remember distinctly catching it and wondering, what is this? It’s different,” he said. This week that opossum was officially named by the American Museum of Natural History in honor of Adler.

The new species featured in the Dec. 8 issue of American Museum Novitates is named marmosa adleri, which is Latin for “Adler’s mouse opossum.” “After working, you know, in that area in Panama where I discovered it for 27 years it’s sort of, you know, the icing on the cake,” he said.

The finding is a highlight of Adler’s nearly 30-year career studying mammals, including rodents and opossums, in tropical rain forests around the world. Adler said it’s a species only a few have ever seen and only he has documented.

“I would say that my graduate student and I are the only humans on the planet who have actually seen one alive,” he said. Today, Adler no longer resides in the jungle but in the classroom. He teaches several courses, including ecology and evolution, a requirement for biology majors.

He said his biggest advice for his students is to be observant. “A lot of them go hunting and fishing and so forth. So I tell them to, you know, when they’re out, be observant, pay attention to various sights and sounds and even odors, and they can see all kinds of interesting. There are a lot of species out there that are waiting, awaiting discovery,” he said.

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