Mammologist discovers new, highly promiscuous mouse-like marsupial

Feb 21, 2014 by Kate Haggman
Mammologist discovers new, highly promiscuous mouse-like marsupial
Dr Andrew Baker has discovered a highly sexed mouse-like marsupial in Queensland’s Springbrook National Park. Credit: Gary Cranitch.

(Phys.org) —A QUT mammalogist has discovered a highly sexed mouse-like marsupial in Queensland's Springbrook National Park.

The Black-tailed Antechinus was found in the high-altitude regions of the World Heritage Area.

It's the third new in the genus Antechinus Dr Andrew Baker's research team has discovered in the past two years, all from south-east Queensland.

Dr Baker said he suspected the rare, Black-tailed Antechinus was a separate species when he and his team came across it last May because it had distinctive yellow-orange markings around its eyes and on its rump, and a black tail and feet.

"Comparing it to the Dusky Antechinus, which inhabits south-east Australia, we thought it was probably new," said Dr Baker, from QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty.

"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."

Dr Baker is now applying for an endangered species listing.

"Antechinus and females are highly promiscuous; males mate for long periods of time with many females to promote their own genes," Dr Baker said.

"A single female's brood of young will typically be sired by several fathers.

Mammologist discovers new, highly promiscuous mouse-like marsupial
The Black-tailed Antechinus has distinctive yellow-orange markings around its eyes and on its rump, and a black tail and feet. Credit: Gary Cranitch.

"But during mating rise dramatically, eventually causing the males' bodies to shut down. The males all die before their young are born."

The results of the team's studies have been published in the journal Zootaxa.

The Black-footed Antechinus is a coup for Dr Baker and his research partners from the Queensland Museum and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

New mammal discoveries are rare, with only a handful typically discovered in the world each year.

Dr Baker said the Black-tailed Antechinus likely won't be the last unique creature to be unearthed in Springbrook National Park.

"The Gondwanaland rainforest relic at Springbrook is special and unique," he told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

"It would not surprise me if there are other animals that are new in that area. Such things are about place not species."

Explore further: Multiple mates worth the risk for female prairie dogs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Multiple mates worth the risk for female prairie dogs

Dec 04, 2013

Mating with more than one male increases reproductive success for female prairie dogs, despite an increase in risks. This is according to a new study published in The Journal of Mammalogy by behavioral ecolog ...

Doing it to death: Suicidal sex in 'marsupial mice'

Oct 07, 2013

Imagine if you only had one shot at passing on your genes before you died. It happens more often in the natural world than you might expect: suicidal reproduction – where one or both sexes of a species ...

Fires wipe out native wildlife

Feb 10, 2014

(Phys.org) —Devastating fires that swept across Victoria and South Australia during last month's heatwave have wreaked havoc on wildlife habitat killing entire populations of threatened native birds, and ...

Tiny ancient bandicoot shines light on future

May 20, 2013

(Phys.org) —A 20 million-year-old fossil skull identified as a 'pocket-sized' ancestor of the bandicoot will give insights into the future of Australia's modern endangered animals.

Endangered frog gets new lease of life

Oct 07, 2013

(Phys.org) —In a bold conservation move, one of Australia's rarest frogs has been given a new lease on life following the first successful frog translocation in Queensland's history.

Recommended for you

Science casts light on sex in the orchard

19 hours ago

Persimmons are among the small club of plants with separate sexes—individual trees are either male or female. Now scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Kyoto University in Japan have discovered ...

Four new dragon millipedes found in China

20 hours ago

A team of speleobiologists from the South China Agriculture University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have described four new species of the dragon millipedes from southern China, two of which seem to ...

Scientist creates automatic birdsong recognition app

Oct 30, 2014

Dr Dan Stowell, an EPSRC Research Fellow in QMUL's School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has used a grant from Queen Mary Innovation to develop a prototype for an app that turns his research ...

New research reveals fish are smarter than we thought

Oct 30, 2014

(Phys.org) —A new study from researchers in our Department of Psychology with colleagues at Queen Mary University of London has reported the first evidence that fish are able to process multiple objects ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Skepticus
not rated yet Feb 22, 2014
"Antechinus males and females are highly promiscuous; males mate for long periods of time with many females to promote their own genes," Dr Baker said.
The Doctor got it all backwards. The males are all gang-raped to death by large number of females!.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.