Scientists from the Queensland University of Technology have discovered a new species of marsupial from Australia, which quite literally mates itself to death.
In the mating season, the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus, a carnivorous marsupial, goes on a testosterone-fueled mating and fighting rampage for two to three weeks, with a single coupling sometimes lasting 14-hours.
This video shows an antechinus similar to the Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus:
“Ultimately, the testosterone triggers a malfunction in the stress hormone shut-off switch; the resulting rise in stress hormones causes the males’ immune systems to collapse and they all drop dead before the females give birth to a single baby,” said the lead researcher, Andrew Baker.
There is some logic to this evolutionary strategy; the yearly ‘suicide mission’ halves the population of the species and allows the females to have enough food to raise the next generation.
The Tasman Antechinus is now threatened by climate change and logging as well as its tendency to halve its population every year.