On a fundamental level, each organism's evolutionary success is determined by little more than whether it can survive long enough pass its genes on to a new generation. But one newly-discovered marsupial appears have taken that natural precept to the extreme, preferring the act of mating so much it actually kills them.
Queensland scientists say the mouse-like animal, called the black-tailed antechinus, was found living in the highlands of Australia's Springbrook National Park, though their population size may be dangerously small. Like other species in the genus, this new species is believed to possess the rather unusual propensity to reproduce with such vigor that it ends their lives.
"They probably follow the typical pattern of antechinus, which is all males are dead before they turn one year old," says Dr. Andrew Baker, researcher from Queensland University of Technology, to the Australian Broadcasting Company.
Biologist Diana Fisher published a study just last year detailing antechinuses' deadly mating habits, thought to arise from intense competition among males to ensure their genetic material wins out over others'.