A team of researchers from the Queensland University of Technology has discovered a new species of marsupial that gives a new meaning to the expression “love you to death”.
This marsupial known as the dusky antechinus lives in the mountainous area of southeast Australia’s Queensland and has been observed engaging in strange mating behavior.
According to the scientists, during the mating season this new species of marsupial has sex with numerous females until it dies from the effort and stress.
Andrew Baker, an expert in mammals at Queensland University of Technology and one of the researchers who discovered the new species, explained that the animal engages in a breeding period that lasts for 2 to 3 weeks.
During this period, the male marsupial mates with as many females as possible and the sexual act can last for up to 14 hours at a time.
Because the mating act requires a lot of stress, the immune system of the male marsupial shuts off and dies of exhaustion, before the female gives birth to the baby.
The animal experts detailed their findings in the journal Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Nature.
According to the biologists, this is not a new species of marsupial per se, but rather a reclassified one under a wider taxonomic umbrella.
The researchers said that the dusky antechinus that lives in the Tasman Peninsula and the dusky antechinus that lives on the mainland are two new species that have received that status of species, rather than subspecies.
In order to do the reclassification, the biologists used body measurements and coloration, especially openings in the palatal vacuities.
Because of the fact that many male marsupials of this species die after mating, five of the 15 species of antechinus are considered endangered.
This includes the variety that lives on the Tasman Peninsula, as per the researchers.
But the fatal mating behavior is not the only factor that threatens this species of marsupials with extinction.
The damaging effects of climate change and the destruction of their natural habitat by logging are two of the most dangerous risk factors, Baker said.
In his study, Baker writes that this new species of marsupial has already retreated to other areas of their mountainous habitat to escape the effects of climate warming so they will have nowhere else to go.
Baker and his team of scientists are trying to conduct further research on this new species of marsupial and hope that the endangered animals to be put on Australia’s federal threatened species list.
Image Source: syracuse