Friday, 22 December 2017

A Tiny, 'Extinct' Marsupial Re-Emerges in the Australian Desert

By Rafi Letzter, Staff Writer | December 18, 2017 11:53am ET

A species of tiny, adorable marsupial that scientists thought had been locally extinct for more than 100 years has re-emerged in New South Wales, Australia.

The crest-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda), which weighs just 5 ounces (150 grams), was once a common small carnivore in desert inland regions of the continent, according to a statement from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). But researchers in the modern era knew the mulgara lived in New South Wales only from fossilized bone fragments.

"The crest-tailed mulgara was once widely distributed across sandy desert environments in inland Australia, but declined due to the effects of rabbits, cats and foxes," UNSW scientist Rebecca West said in the statement.

Rabbits, cats and foxes are all invasive species in Australia, according to the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy; they arrived with European settlers and have had devastating effects on the continent's native wildlife. [10 Species Success Stories]

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