Australia’s extinct mouse that never really disappeared

A extinct mouse from Australia He has come back from the dead to bring joy to the ocean nation’s conservation scientists. Well, actually, coming back from the dead is more of a poetic license. What has happened is that, after 150 years during which it was thought to have succumbed to extinction, have been seen again in some small islands.

The case is inevitably reminiscent of a turtle that was recently seen also in the Galapagos after 112 years missing. But they are not equivalent situations. In the case of the reptile, an isolated specimen was seen, whose genetic sequencing revealed that it was the one that had not been seen for a century. In addition, there are two other possible candidates to belong to the same species. Instead, the extinct Australian mouse had remained with a small population, but detectable, mistaken for a different species.

It was recently discovered by the doctor Emily roycroft, from the Australian National University. And, how could it be otherwise, he has described everything in a study, which has just been published in PNAS.

Australia’s extinct mouse that really wasn’t

Human colonization on the Australian islands over the last two centuries gradually led to the disappearance of many of the species that lived there.

Many rodents became extinct with the colonization of the islands by humans

Rodents are among the great sufferers of this problem, not only because of the Destruction of their habitat. Also because of the hunt to which the domestic cats that began to populate the area.

For 150 years it has been thought that gould mouse (Pseudomys gouldii) had been one of those affected, since it went from being spread practically throughout the Australian territory to disappearing completely.

Therefore, it was one of the animals that Dr. Roycroft studied when she began her research on the extinct native rodent genetics. But what was your surprise to discover that the DNA of the remains of this extinct mouse from Australia preserved in museums were remarkably similar to those of the shark bay mouse (Pseudomys fieldi), also known as Djoongari. So similar that they were the same species.

Its population has shrunk, but has not disappeared

The Djoongari became widespread throughout Western Australia, although today it is only found on a few small islands.

Conservation strategies will be necessary so that it can continue to reproduce and not disappear, as was thought in its day. But for now, we have good news about it.

And, according to the author of this study, domestic cats, like wild cats, seem to be more attracted to larger rodents. For this reason, some like this supposedly extinct mouse from Australia resisted the hunt. And, as if it were a protected witness, they changed their identity. Up to now.

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