Australia's suicidally-sexed marsupials under-threat, males dying after sexual interaction: QUT

This is the full body.
This is the full body. Gary Cranitch

Scientists from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) discovered two new species called "suicidally-sexed marsupials". Sadly enough the Black-tailed and the Silver-headed Antechinus found on remote mountaintops in south-east Queensland are already on the list of threatened animals.

A group of researchers from QUT, led by Andrew Baker, mammologist from QUT, found five species linked to the Antechinus group in the past three years. According to them, climate change, loss of habitat and feral pests have turned out to be the reason behind their decline.

"We discovered the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus not far from the old European settlement town of Port Arthur in Tasmania. Most of its apparently limited habitat falls within state forest, in stands of regenerated wet eucalypt forest," said Baker, in a statement published on their website.

"Uncovering new mammals in developed countries like Australia is pretty rare and the fact we've found even more antechinus species hints at the biodiversity jewels still waiting to be unearthed," he further added.

The researchers further explained that even though the changing climatic conditions have become a threat to these species, the sexual habits of these animals might have triggered the results.

The male antechinus fights to check a female's stamina before a sexual relationship and while mating they unfortunately die, which leaves a lot of mothers alone with their children.

According to Andrew Baker, the breeding period is basically two to three weeks of speed-mating, "with testosterone-fuelled males coupling with as many females as possible, for up to 14 hours at a time,"

"Ultimately, the testosterone triggers a malfunction in the stress hormone shut-off switch; the resulting rise in stress hormones causes the males' immune systems to collapse and they all drop dead before the females give birth to a single baby," he said.

In an addition to this, he mentioned that 9 out of 10 Australian mammal species are unique but they are vanishing "before our very eyes."

"Millions of native mammals likely fall victim every night to feral cats alone. Other introduced ferals, such as European foxes and poisonous cane toads, account for the deaths of millions more. These threats, together with global warming, fires and habitat loss, may cause local population extinctions of our unique mammals almost weekly," he further added.

According to QUT, the researchers are looking for further funding to continue the research process on mysterious unique mammals to protect the discovered species and find more hidden animals.