Wisc. (WLAX/WEUX) – One biology professor at a Wisconsin university will have his legacy live on in the name of a new species of opossum he documented nearly 20 years ago. It’s been twenty years since UWO 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.”
This week, that opossum was officially named by the American museum of natural history, to Adlers’ surprise, in honor of him.
“After working, you know, in that area in Panama, where I discovered it, for 27 years it’s sort of, you know, icing on the cake.”
Now named the Marmosa Adleri, it’s a species only a few have ever seen.
“I would say that my graduate sooner and on I are the only humans on the planet who have actually seen one alive.”
And one only Adler has documented.
“That part of Panama is probably the most intensively sampled area of tropical forest anywhere in the world so I did not think that, you know, something as large as an opossum would escape discovery for so long.”
Today, Adler no longer resides in the jungle, but in the classroom teaching several courses including the ecology of evolution. He says 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.”