SYDNEY Feb 20 Australian scientists have
discovered a new species of marsupial, about the size of a
mouse, which conduct marathon mating sessions that often prove
fatal for the male.
The Black-Tailed Antechinus has been found in the
high-altitude, wet areas of far southeast Queensland and
northeast New South Wales.
It is identifiable by a very shaggy coat and an
orangey-brown coloured rump which ends with a black tail.
But it's their strenuous mating sessions, which can last for
to 14 hours, with both the males and females romping from mate
to mate, that is most striking about the animals.
"It's frenetic, there's no courtship, the males will just
grab the females and both will mate promiscuously," Andrew
Baker, head of the research team from the Queensland University
of Technology who made the discovery, told Reuters.
The mating season lasts for several weeks and the males will
typically die from their exertions.
Excessive stress hormones in the males that build up during
the mating season degrade their body tissue, leading to death.
Females have the ability to block the production of the hormone.
The species was found at the highest peak of the
World-Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests, in Springbrook
National Park in Queensland, about 900 km (560 miles) north east
The findings about the new species have been published in
the science journal Zootaxa.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Robert Birsel)