Tags: marsupials | mating | species | marathon | sex

Marsupials' Mating Habits: 14-Hour Sessions Ending in Exhaustion, Death

By    |   Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 01:29 PM

Scientists have discovered two new species of marsupials that are known for marathon mating sessions that end in exhaustion and death for the males.

The Queensland University of Technology in Australia announced Monday that of the two new species, the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus was found in remote, south-eastern Tasmania, while the Mainland Dusky Antechinus lives on mainland Australia.

"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," said Andrew Baker, who is part of the team that discovered the pouched animals.

Like the Black-tailed and the Silver-headed Antechinus, also discovered by Baker, scientists are worried that the new species are under threat of endangerment and extinction.

Not only are humans continuing to encroach on their natural habitats, but the sex antics of the Antechinus also hurt its chances of survival.

"The breeding period is basically two to three weeks of speed-mating, with testosterone-fueled males coupling with as many females as possible, for up to 14 hours at a time," Baker explained.

"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. This yearly male suicide mission, which halves each Antechinus population, means the mums have enough spiders and insects to eat while they raise the next precious generation. But the future of each species is entrusted to the mothers alone."

The researchers have announced that they will soon be seeking funding to study the habitat of the Antechinus, with a focus on discovering their true geographical range.

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Scientists have discovered two new species of marsupials that are known for marathon mating sessions that end in exhaustion and death for the males.
marsupials, mating, species, marathon, sex
288
2015-29-02
Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 01:29 PM
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