New Discovery: Porcupine Species Identified in Brazil

The Coendou porcupines, also known as prehensile-tailed porcupines are nocturnal, herbivorous, solitary rodents native to Central and South America. Photograph by Hugo Fernandes Ferreira.

One prickly subject you can always discuss in public? Porcupines.

And now they’ll make a good conversation starter because a new porcupine species has been identified in Brazil. Biologists Anderson Feijó and Alfredo Langguth of the Federal University of Paraíba identified Coendou baturitensis, or the Baturite porcupine, in a study published in Revista Nordestina de Biologia.

The habitat of the not-so-cuddly new creature is the Brejos de Altitude forests in the mountainous Baturite Range, which is located in the Brazilian state of Ceará. The fragmented, humid forests are in an area that Feijó said is in need of protection from deforestation.

A Spiky Experiment

The researchers based their discovery of the new species on the remains of two porcupine specimens found several decades apart, in 1954 and in 2012. They examined the older specimen first, which had been classified as the Brazilian porcupine.

When they compared it to the newer specimen from the Baturite Range, they found that some characteristics of the quills and skull were “unique to these animals [and] had not been found in any other so far,” Feijó said. The quills remain preserved under the right conditions, he added. (Related: “Why Porcupine Quills Go in Easily but Are Hard to Pull Out.”)

The newly identified Baturite porcupine is now the seventh known species of prehensile-tailed porcupine, which is native to Central and South America. They’re herbivores and adept climbers that rest in tree canopies during the day and forage at night. They can use their tails for grasping (kinkajous, spider monkeys, and opossums also have prehensile tails).

In the study, the authors describe the newfound porcupine as “a medium sized species, with body densely covered with tricolor quills.” What sets it apart from the Brazilian porcupine is the color pattern of its quills, a “darker general appearance of the body,” and its broad snout and big, soft, bulbous nose.

The study does not go so far as to say it’s cute as a button despite its prickly exterior. But try not to get stuck on that.

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Liz Langley is the award-winning author of Crazy Little Thing: Why Love and Sex Drive Us Mad and has written for many publications including Salon, Details and the Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter @LizLangley and at www.lizlangley.com
  • Eileen

    Delightful post.. it’s such a wonderful thing to see that we are still discovering the beauty of our planet.

  • Lumpungu Josue

    I’m amazed to that. The more we discover, the more we realise that there Someone who knoe everything he created ….
    Who is He? Jehovah that’s his name Revelation 4:11

  • Joan

    Meh… a new animal to exploit or extinguish…

  • Claudio Lopez

    Hace dos años lo vi al norte de Venezuela, no solo se encuentra en Brazil

  • yasser arfath

    wow, This is not only a ‘Great job’!!!!

  • Liz Langley

    Thank you @Eileen!
    Agreed – and I love the photo. Look at those amazing hands!

  • kelly

    Cute wouldn’t want a cuddle though

  • Sunny

    its one cute creature!
    but as i see it, its hands are coming out from the spiky area of its body. It might hurt its own self sometimes like that.. i guess..

  • The Punisher

    It’s a spetacular discovery. The planet at the edge of its own destruction we still have new things to see. Greetings from Brasil.

  • Paula

    It is amazing, the fact that such a creature has only being discovered now…. I find it difficult to believe.

  • Ghansham Ojha

    Well Said @Liz Langleyji. Glad to see the pic and welcome new living being. may GOD bless you. JAI BHARATH…

  • Greg

    Whatever it is, it’s not as dangerous as this monkey!

  • srinivasareddy k

    Very beautiful then us

  • Ross

    Cute as only a mother would inow.

  • Ross


  • Kenneth Lane

    While we humans spend our wealth exploring far distant planets we overlook what is right before our eyes–think there is a proper name for this form of stupidity—-

  • Buddy H

    I love that picture that tree porcupine

  • Carla

    I imagine how many other new creatures there are to be discovered…

  • Kaisa Laihonen

    Precious thing. I bet there’s people already making plans how to catch them and sell them as pets for the rich.

  • Winston Green

    The dedication of these researchers pays off.

  • Emily

    Hello, I took this photo in Costa Rica and I am curious if anyone is able to identify this little guy as a Baturite or a different prehensile-tail porcupine? I am very curious to find out 🙂


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