New Marsupial Discovered in Queensland, Australia

Posted on February 21, 2014

A new marsupial has been discovered in Queensland's Springbrook National Park. It has been named the Black-tailed Antechinus (Antechinus arktos). The creature is only found in areas of high altitude and heavy rainfall on the Tweed Volcano caldera in far south-east Queensland. This is the third new species in the genus Antechinus discovered by Dr. Andrew Baker's research team in the past two years. Dr. Baker is applying for an endangered species listing for the little creature.

Dr. Baker, from QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty, says in a statement, "Comparing it to the Dusky Antechinus, which inhabits south-east Australia, we thought it was probably new. We laid about 300 traps baited with peanut butter and oats. When we caught the first black-tailed antechinus in a trap, we knew we were onto something pretty special."

Male members of the new species are described as being highly promiscuous. The males die during mating. The males of the other two species of antechinus are also known for their frenetic mating behavior, which always results in their death.

Dr. Baker says, "Antechinus males and females are highly promiscuous; males mate for long periods of time with many females to promote their own genes. A single female's brood of young will typically be sired by several fathers. But during mating stress hormone levels rise dramatically, eventually causing the males' bodies to shut down. The males all die before their young are born."

The research was published here in Zootaxa.

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