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

Male sex organ distinguishes 30 millipede species

10 hours ago

The unique shapes of male sex organs have helped describe thirty new millipede species from the Great Western Woodlands in the Goldfields, the largest area of relatively undisturbed Mediterranean climate ...

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

Nov 26, 2014

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

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.