Speed Reads

The annals of primal urges

Newly discovered Australian mammal mates until it dies


Researchers in Queensland, Australia have discovered a new mammal with some unique breeding habits: The Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus will mate until it dies. These mouse-like marsupials can lose up to half of their population every mating season, as the testosterone-driven males engage in “orgies of violence and sex” reminiscent of Game of Thrones, according to mammalogist Dr. Andrew Barker. The process, which can last for weeks, causes the male’s immune system to fail, leading to hair loss, internal bleeding, and ulcers. Even then, they will continue, “stumbling around blind, trying to mate.”

Mating season isn't the only reason antechinus numbers are low — the marsupial’s homeland is under threat from deforestation and climate change. Researchers are hoping to get federal protections for the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus, though the process can take years. Australia has some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet, with 9 out of 10 mammal species unique to the continent but also has the highest mammal extinction rate.