Two New Species of Horny Marsupials Found in Australia

AntechinusMainland01Has evolution gone mad, or is something else destroying these strange little marsupials native to Australia? It seems they engage in mating behavior until they literally drop dead! CryptoVille had to investigate this one because though they aren’t technically cryptids, their behavior is definitely strange!

The good news is that Australian scientists have discovered two “new” tiny marsupial species of antechinus. The bad news is that these carnivorous little guys go mad when mating season rolls around.  They fiercely compete with other males for females then go into a mating frenzy for such an extended time that they eventually die from the effort. (Photo above right shows Mainland Dusky Antechinus.)

The two news species of marsupials found are the Tasman Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus vandycki) which lives in a remote area of Tasmania, and the Mainland Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii mimetes) which lives in eastern Australia. The Tasman Dusky Antechinus averages 5 inches long and weighs about 3 ounces. The Mainland Dusky Antechinus, the largest antechinus in this family, weighs just under a pound and can reach nearly 4 feet long (which must include the tail).

YowieVsBigfootAndrew Baker, the lead researcher in the study says, “Uncovering new mammals in developed countries like Australia is pretty rare and the fact we’ve found even more antechinus species hints at the biodiversity jewels still waiting to be unearthed.”  (Wait until they find the Yowie! 🙂 )

Baker adds, “The breeding period is basically two to three weeks of speed-mating, with testosterone-fueled males coupling with as many females as possible, for up to 14 hours at a time. Ultimately, the testosterone triggers a malfunction in the stress hormone shut-off switch; the resulting rise in stress hormones causes the males’ immune systems to collapse and they all drop dead before the females give birth to a single baby.”

I know “love hurts,” but this is crazy! This must be the reason why at least one of the species is on the endangered list, right? They lose half their population every year!

LoveHurtsNazarethGuess again.

Scientists tell us that halving the population every year ensures that the mother antechinuses will be able to find enough spiders and insects to feed their offspring.

So how is it that they’re endangered, then? Turns out their habitats are being decimated by you know who.

AntechinusTasman01According to Baker, “Most of its [Tasman Peninsula Dusky antechinus pictured left] limited habitat falls within state forest, which is being logged. This species now apparently only lives in tiny, fragmented stands of intact forest that are under threat. It’s a shame that mere moments after discovery, these little Tasmanian marsupials are threatened with extinction at human hands.”

The scientists’ goal is to have these animals added to the roster of Australia’s federal threatened species list. That may help them survive.

The Mainland Dusky Antechinus is listed on the Least Concerned list, which means it isn’t endangered. At the moment.

Seriously, they think we’re crazy for believing in Bigfoot, and yet look at the weirdness Mother Nature throws our way!

Til the next time!

References

http://www.sci-news.com/biology/science-antechinus-new-species-australia-02866.html

http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-find-new-species-of-marsupial-that-mate-themselves-to-death

http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Dasyuromorphia/Dasyuridae/Antechinus/Antechinus-swainsonii.html

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