Scientists in the Australian state of Queensland have discovered three new species of a rodent-like marsupial. With the species, the males fornicate until they collapse.
The new species belong to the genus Antechinus. One characteristic that the new species share is that the males die off in high numbers at the conclusion of the mating season. This is an event called "semelparity" (a single reproductive episode before death).
The most abundant of the three new species is the black-tailed antechinus (Antechinus arktos). To show that the rodent was indeed a new species, researchers used mitochondrial DNA sequencing to confirm that the black-tailed antechinus, which can be found in the mountains of southwest Queensland, was in fact a distinct species and not a mainland form of the dusky antechinus (A. swainsonii mimetes).
Commenting on the discovery, Andrew Baker, head of the Queensland University of Technology team that made the discoveries, told The Guardian: "It’s a very exciting time to be a mammalogist. Typically there’s only a couple of new species of mammals found worldwide each year. So to find three new species of this marsupial, all in South East Queensland is really exciting."
The new species has been described in the journal Zootaxa ("The Black-tailed Antechinus, Antechinus arktos sp. nov.: a new species of carnivorous marsupial from montane regions of the Tweed Volcano caldera, eastern Australia").