Human Interest

Mouse believed to be extinct for 150 years found living off Western Australia

Sydney, Australia, Jun 29 (EFE).- Scientists in Australia have rediscovered a mouse species that was believed to have gone extinct 150 years ago, according to a study published Tuesday.

The Gould’s mouse disappeared from mainland Australia following the country’s colonization by Europeans, who brought invasive European predators with them, the study in the PNAS scientific journal said.

Through genomic sequencing, experts concluded that a species of mouse living on small islands off the coast of Western Australia, called the Shark Bay mouse, was genetically identical to Gould’s mouse (Pseudomys gouldii).

Scientists cross-checked the mouse’s DNA against eight samples from extinct species and 42 living relatives.

Emily Roycroft, a researcher at Australian National University and lead author of the paper, wrote in the Conversation: “In 1837, a Gould’s mouse specimen was collected for the Natural History Museum, London, from the Hunter Valley of New South Wales.

“The last verified time it was seen alive was in 1857, near the border of Victoria and NSW.

“After genomic analysis of these specimens, we found the species has been hiding in plain sight for more than 100 years, under a different name, thousands of kilometres away in Western Australia.”

Thirty-four species of mammals have gone extinct since the European colonization of Australia, most of them native rodents, Roycroft added.

Gould’s mouse has shaggy fur and weighs 45 grams on average, twice the size of a European house mouse.

Shark Bay’s islands are free of predators such as cats and foxes. EFE

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