An endangered animal, Antechinus, has two new members. Well, they have been there all along. A team from Queensland University of Technology discovered the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus vandycki) in south east Tasmania, and nominated the Mainland Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus mimetes). The latter was known to be in New South Wales and Victoria but it is now a species in its own right.
The Tasman Antechinus is about 13 cm long with a short tail weighing roughly 90g. It is located in Port Arther, Tasmania. Under threat from clearing of trees it resides in state forest in fragmented groups. Survival is precarious in the isolated stands.
While uncovering new species is rare in developed countries, new ones are being found in Australia all the time. This is due to the low population density of people in inland Australia. Unfortunately, new species when found are usually in small numbers and under threat.
Antechinus are not helping themselves, though. Males fight to the death every mating season. They literally go sex mad for a few weeks copulating with as many females as possible for up to 14 hours at a time. All males are dead by the time females give birth. This leaves plenty of food for females. Having a glut of insects and spiders secures a good start for the young.
✴ Biology by Ty Buchanan ✴