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Aus scientists discover new marsupial known for ‘marathon’ mating sessions

Scientists in Australia have discovered a new marsupial species known for its over-enthusiastic mating sessions.

Melbourne | Updated: February 19, 2014 10:04:14 am
New marsupial species found in New South Wales. (AP) New marsupial species found in New South Wales. (AP)

A new species of mouse-like marsupial known for its unusual breeding habits in the Gold Coast hinterland has been discovered by Australian scientists. The species had caught global attention last year after researchers found the male of the species was dying from stress after over-enthusiastic marathon mating sessions. The new findings are published in the scientific journal Zootaxa.

Scientists are claiming to have discovered a new species, the black-tailed antechinus, which is said to be only found in high-altitude, wet areas in the Springbrook National Park between northern New South Wales and the Gold Coast Hinterland. Andrew Baker of Queensland University of Technology said researchers are applying for an endangered species listing while they conduct more research.

They probably follow the typical pattern of antechinus, which is all males are dead before they turn one year old,” he said adding usually antechinus have a “frenzied mating period” when they are about 11 months old, and “all males will die before the young are born”. Baker said it is not yet known how many of the species exist, but he describes them as “quite striking”.

“The tail emerges from a body that is very shaggy, very hairy, with really long guard hairs,” he said. “On the rump of the animal it becomes almost an orangey-brown colour, but where the tail emerges from the rump there is quite a distinct change from orange rump to black tail. “It’s a very short-furred tail and they have black feet as well.”

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