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Australian scientists find new species of rock-wallaby in 2014

Australian scientists find new species of rock-wallaby in 2014

PERTH: Australian scientists discovered new species of rock-wallaby at the end of 2014. These new species of native marsupial living in the Northern Territory.
For decades, biologists have assumed the Short-eared Rock-wallaby found across northern Australia from the Kimberleys to the Top End was a single species.
“We’ve shown it’s quite clearly two species,” said Mark Eldridge, a principal research scientist at the Australian Museum Research Institute.
The discovery was revealed by genetic tests, and highlights how much there is to learn about well-studied groups such as mammals and birds.
“In a lot of cases, especially with mammals, people assume we know what’s going on, when no-one has really looked at them in any sort of detail,” Dr Eldridge said.
“It means we could lose things without ever knowing they existed.”
The newly recognised species will be known as the Wilkins’ Rock-wallaby, named after the Australian explorer, naturalist and aviator Sir George Wilkins who collected one of the first specimens in southwestern Arnhem Land in 1925.
Scientists had often questioned whether a single species could be spread across such a large range.
“We’ve often wondered about it because it is so variable in size, coat colour and markings across its range that it raised some flags,” Dr Eldridge said.
But it wasn’t until researcher Sally Potter, now at the Australian National University, sequenced the genes of a number of Short-eared Rock-wallabies found across northern Australia that the team could confirm they were different species.