Noronhomys vespuccii Carleton & Olson

Fernando de Noronha Rat (Noronhomys vespuccii

When Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian merchant, explorer, and navigator that lived from 1451 to 1512 and

from whose name the term “America” is derived, set foot on the island of Fernando de Noronha in 1503, he reported of: “marine and land birds without number” and also “very large rats.” [1]

This rat species had not been properly identified until subfossil remains were found abundantly in the 1970s.:

The most frequently encountered fossils were those of a large rodent of the family Cricetidae, very different from the recent remains of the introduced rats (Rattus), which were also encountered on the dunes. This cricetid is almost certainly the rat mentioned by Vespucci. It is a new species, and possibly a new genus in the subfamily Sigmodontinae.” [1]

The species was finally described in 1999; it very likely died out very soon after the discovery of the island accompanied by the accidental introduction of rats. [2]



[1] S. L. Olson: Natural history of vertebrates on the Brazilian islands of the mid South Atlantic. National Geographic Society Research Reports 13: 481-492. 1981
[2] Michael D. Carleton; Storrs L. Olson: Amerigo Vespucci and the rat of Fernando de Noronha: a new genus and species of Rodentia (Muridae, Sigmodontinae) from a volcanic island off Brazil’s continental shelf. American Museum Novitates 3256: 1-59. 1999


edited: 03.05.2022