You’re going to think I am making this up.
Scientists in Australia have recently discovered the perfect mascot for the preferred locale of one of my beloved MIE blogmates. This new species of marsupial is part of a class known for decades. But while these new-to-us little guys have similar traits to their formerly known cousins, they have those behaviors in spades. Let me explain.
The dusky antechinus is a tiny marsupial—males 65 grams, females 41—that inhabits high country along the southeast Australian coast and on the island of Tasmania. (Island living is a clue in this story—be it a continent or just plain old islands.) These mouse-size animals have much the outward appearance of a shrew—sharp little faces, short fan-shaped ears, long claws, and alert, beady eyes. They are nocturnal and greedily carnivorous—ingesting insects, worms, and the odd lizard or small bird that might happen by. They are solitary except during the mating season.
What distinguishes these new species of dusky antechinus is—to quote The Washington Post of June2—“Their proclivity for ferocious, suicidal sex frenzies…” Their mating takes place during only one three-or-four week period in winter (which, of course, is July and August on Mykonos). Raging with testosterone, males of the species compete fiercely for the available females, copulating with as many as they can, for six to fourteen hours at a clip. Totally depleted after three weeks of this fury, almost all the male population drops dead.
Did I hear you say, “What a way to go!”
The very least the denizens of Mykonos can do for this exemplary species is adopt the dusky antechinus as their official mascot. After all, if Jeff Siger is to be believed, this little critter is the incarnation of the obsession of those summer island visitors. As such, the self-sacrificing marsupial will need a nickname. I propose one invented on this week’s episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” the NPR News Quiz. One of the contestants suggested that the dusky antechinus be called THE BANGAROO!
Annamaria - Monday