By NICHOLAS WILKINSThe world’s largest land animal, the giant grouper, is on the brink of extinction.
Scientists have identified a new species in the wild that could threaten the UK’s iconic species, which has been dubbed the “greatest land animal on the planet”.
The discovery of the giant gourd in England is the result of a collaborative effort between the Natural History Museum of Wales and scientists from a team of around 30 institutions around the world.
The gourds range from 6ft (1.8m) in length to nearly 15ft (4m) and weigh in excess of 3,500kg (6,000lb).
“We’ve found a very rare species of gourdon in the UK that we haven’t seen before,” said Dr Sarah Fenton, an expert in conservation biology at the Natural Science Museum of England.
The discovery was made by scientists from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), who worked together with experts from the British Museum, the Natural Environment Research Council, and the Zoological Society of London.
Giant gourdes were once widespread throughout the world, but the threat of habitat destruction from industrial farming and development forced them to migrate to the UK in the late 19th century.
Scientists from around the globe have worked together to help conserve this iconic species by identifying habitat for the new species and encouraging conservation efforts.
“We need to protect the Great Gourd because it is one of the most endangered creatures on the globe,” said Nick Fenton of the Natural Society.
“Its habitat is disappearing, and its habitat is in decline.”
Gourds are known for their large size and powerful jaws, but scientists have struggled to understand why they are so powerful.
“They are incredibly powerful predators and we don’t know why they have these incredible jaws,” said Tom Wood, the director of the National Museum of Natural History.
“What is clear is that they’re a huge land animal that is very, very difficult to kill.”
It’s a very, really hard species to kill and we are trying very hard to do so.
“Giant grouper are an animal found only in North America and Europe, but their numbers have increased in recent years.
The scientists identified a population of giant gours in the northern British Isles in 2013, but were unable to confirm the species.”
The first step is to know whether it’s a true giant groupe,” said Mr Wood.”
Then we need to see how it’s able to move around the island.
Then we need a DNA test to see if it’s related to any other species.
“Researchers hope to make the giant griffin a protected species in future.”
We’re going to have a much better idea of where they live.”