Monday, 16 February 2015

Petrogale wilkinsi: New Species of Rock-Wallaby Discovered in Australia

Feb 13, 2015 by Natali Anderson

A new cryptic species of rock-wallaby has been described by a team of scientists led by Dr Sally Potter from the Australian Museum Research Institute and the Australian National University.

An adult male of the Wilkins’ rock-wallaby (Petrogale wilkinsi) photographed in Litchfield National Park, Australia. Image credit: Emily Miller.

Rock-wallabies (genus Petrogale) are small to medium-sized marsupials, weighing from 1 to 12 kg.

These animals are only found in mainland Australia and some offshore islands, being absent from Tasmania and New Guinea.

They represent one of the largest groups of extant macropods (kangaroos, wallabies and their relatives) distributed across the country, where they inhabit complex rocky environments such as cliffs, gorges, outcrops and escarpments.

In a new DNA study, Dr Potter and her colleagues found that two populations of a widespread and common species, the short-eared rock-wallaby (Petrogale brachyotis), – one from the Kimberley and western Northern Territory, the other from the northern and eastern Northern Territory – are genetically distinct species.

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