The Australian mouse has been hiding under a different name for 150 years.
gold mouse (Pseudomys gouldii) It can be crossed off the list of extinct animals. The researchers write this in a new study published in the journal PNAS. It was believed that the animal was exterminated about 150 years ago. But all the while, the Australian mouse seems to be pretending to be close.
Understandably, scientists believed that Gould’s rat had been killed. Study researcher Emily Roycroft said in an interview with Scientias. nl. This means that this species has not been recorded for 150 years. It leads to a logical conclusion: the animal must have become extinct two centuries ago.
In a new study, researchers compared DNA samples from eight extinct Australian ferrets with 42 living relatives. In this way, the team sought to better understand the decline of native species since the arrival of Europeans in Australia. The investigation leads to a wonderful discovery. Because it turns out that the supposedly extinct Goulds rat was indistinguishable from the Alice Springs rat.
It turned out that the “extinct” Australian rat had been hiding under a different name for 150 years. “Using genomics from historical museum samples, we’ve shown that the Goulds mouse is just like the Alice Springs mouse,” Roycroft points out. “It is a typical case of identity change. So Golds rat has been hiding in plain sight all this time, just under a different name.”
It’s an amazing discovery. The Alice Springs mouse lives on several small islands off the coast of Western Australia. This is while it was originally believed that the Golds rat appeared only in the states of New South Wales and Victoria. “The result was a huge surprise at first,” Roycroft says. “Certainly in light of the enormous geographical separation. But from the results of our study, it is clear that the Goldus rat roamed most of Australia. This species was then partially exterminated and lives only on a few islands off the coast of the Western Australian Shark Bay.”
According to the researcher, the rediscovery of the Goulds mouse is both exciting and realistic. “It’s great that we can kind of get past the extinction list now,” she says. Native rodents are very important to the ecosystem and play a vital role in Australian environments as consumers of plants, fungi and invertebrates. In addition, they themselves serve as prey for other domestic species. Continued loss of native rodents from Australian landscapes may lead to broader ecosystem collapse. So in that regard, it is very important that we protect them in the future.”
At the same time, it also shows how dramatic the collapse of the Golds rat was in less than 150 years. The mouse, which was once ubiquitous on the mainland, now lives only on a few islands off the coast of Western Australia. This is a massive population collapse.
The arrival of the Europeans
In addition to the Goulds mouse, the team also examined seven other extinct native species. Remarkably, they all had relatively high genetic diversity prior to their extinction. This indicates that they were abundant before the arrival of the Europeans. “This clearly shows that genetic diversity does not guarantee extinction,” Roycroft said. The environment and threats changed so dramatically after the arrival of the Europeans that these species were not given the opportunity to adapt. This has been caused by a number of different factors, including the introduction of feral cats, foxes and other invasive species, shift to farmland, inadequate fire control, and the spread of new diseases.”
According to the researcher, the study shows how important it is to save the remaining populations from extinction. “It’s great that we now have a chance to protect a Golds mouse – or an Alice Springs mouse,” she says. But the species remains vulnerable to extinction. The remaining population contains only a small portion of the original genetic diversity. This means that the species is less resistant to future environmental changes and more susceptible to disease. We are in danger of losing a lot of Australia’s biodiversity. At the moment, not enough is being done to prevent this.”