Unknown mammals may lurk nearby, biology professor tells ‘With Good Reason’

Tara Pelletier, Ph.D.

Unknown mammals are hiding in plain sight, according to a recent study from a group of researchers that included Radford University Assistant Professor of Biology Tara Pelletier.

These unknown, ready-to-be-discovered mammals have yet to be found because most are small and look similar to known mammals. Their characteristics are so similar to the mammals we already know that biologists have not recognized them as a separate species, Pelletier and the study’s co-authors say.

Some of those mammal species may be lurking in Southwest Virginia and throughout the commonwealth, said Pelletier, who spoke about the research recently in a recorded interview with the With Good Reason public radio program.

“Even if animals look the same to our human eyes, they can have genetic differences that make them different species,” Pelletier said in the interview, which is now available as a podcast at withgoodreason.org.

The “With Good Reason” radio program is produced by Virginia Humanities for the Virginia Higher Education Broadcasting Consortium, which comprises all of Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

The award-winning program is heard by an estimated 100,000 people each week on public radio stations in 38 states, including Virginia and Washington, D.C. Thousands more download the episodes via iTunes.

In addition to Pelletier, many other Radford University faculty members shared their ideas and expertise in interviews on “With Good Reason” in the past year:

Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Daniel Miner spoke with the radio program about his work with Wheel Love, a Virginia community group that helps make recreational activities available to people with disabilities.

School of Teacher Education and Leadership Professor Tricia Easterling talked to “With Good Reason” about her dedication to teaching and boosting her students' critical thinking skills.

Professor of Biology Karen Powers discussed her research examining the prevention of bird-window collisions.

Associate Professor of English and literary tourist Courtney Watson spoke about her travels throughout the southern United States and various locations around the world to examine the legacies of well-known authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright and William Faulkner. 

In Hwajung Lee’s “With Good Reason” interview, the computing and information sciences professor spoke about the benefits we receive when we unplug from devices and explained why we should slow down before we plug in more of them.

Sep 7, 2023
Chad Osborne
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