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Island Sanctuary Could Save Sex-Crazed Northern Quoll

northern quoll

Life is tough if you’re a northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus). These rare, cat-sized Australian marsupials don’t have very long life spans—especially males, which tend to die after their first mating experience when less than a year old. You see, all female quolls go into heat at the same time, and it drives the males a [...]

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Sunday Species Snapshot: Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo

Goodfellow's tree-kangaroo

Yes, there are kangaroos that live in trees. Like the famous hoppers of Australia, tree-kangaroos are marsupials. Unlike ground kangaroos, tree-kangaroos are adapted for arboreal life, making them particularly vulnerable to deforestation. Species name: Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo, a.k.a. the ornate tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi). Where found: The rainforests of Papua New Guinea, mostly in mountain regions. IUCN [...]

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Parasites that Cause Chagas Disease in Humans May Also Be Killing Tiny Australian Marsupials

woylies

Why are the woylies all dying? Since 2001 the populations of these tiny Australian marsupials have mysteriously crashed by as much as 90 percent. The species, which had already been driven to near-extinction in the early 20th century, had been on the path to recovery after successful conservation efforts protected them from foxes and other [...]

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Dig This: Decline of Australian Digging Mammals Impacts Entire Ecosystems

bandicoot

How much soil would a bandicoot dig if a bandicoot could dig soil? Quite a lot, it turns out. The southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) weighs just 1.4 kilograms, but over the course of a year this tiny digging marsupial can excavate more than 3.9 metric tons of soil as it builds its nests and [...]

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Platypus Populations on Small Australian Islands Show Lack of Genetic Diversity, High Risk of Disease

Last year we learned that climate change could soon make Australia too hot for the cold-loving, iconic platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). Now we have word of a new threat to these unique, egg-laying mammals: inbreeding, which has put the platypuses living on two small Australian islands at enhanced risk of disease. According to research published March [...]

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Can the Most Interesting Man in the World Help Save This Critically Endangered Wombat?

most interesting man in the world

Is the northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) the most interesting endangered species in the world? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t—but it has definitely attracted the attention of the Dos Equis beer commercial spokesperson known only as “the Most Interesting Man in the World.” The television advertising icon and Dos Equis have launched an auction [...]

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Tunnels and Bridges Could Help Save Koalas from Extinction

Australia is debating whether or not to list koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) as a threatened or endangered species, and one of the ideas for saving them is to build tunnels to help the marsupials cross under roads without being killed by cars and trucks. We’re used to thinking about koalas living in trees, but they spend [...]

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Thylacine Hunted into Extinction for No Reason, Study Reveals

The thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), better known as the Tasmanian tiger, has long been the poster child for human-caused extinction. Hunted out of existence by Australian farmers who feared that the striped, canine-like marsupials would kill their sheep, the last thylacine died in captivity in Hobart Zoo 75 years ago next week, on September 7, 1936 [...]

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Humans are more at risk from diseases as biodiversity disappears

People often ask me, "Why should I care if a species goes extinct? It’s not essential to my daily life, is it?" Well, according to new research published December 2 in Nature, the answer is yes—healthy biodiversity is essential to human health. As species disappear, infectious diseases rise in humans and throughout the animal kingdom, [...]

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Road killed: Australia’s common wombat could soon be uncommon

common wombat

The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is, as its name suggests, fairly common in Australia. In fact, the indigenous badgerlike mammal is often considered to be a pest. But widespread species are usually ignored because they are pervasive, and in the case of V. ursinus new research warns that the meter-long marsupials could soon be in [...]

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The “bunny” hop: Resurrecting the Easter bilby

Rabbits aren’t exactly popular in Australia, where invasive European rabbits have wreaked havoc on the country’s ecology. And so, with Easter just days away, many Australian children will be celebrating not with the traditional Easter bunny, but with the Easter bilby, as the nation uses the holiday to to celebrate—and raise funds to protect—one of [...]

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