Is the long-beaked echidna extinct?

Linette Umbrello's blog | Created 5 years ago

In 1901 John Tunney collected an echidna specimen from the Kimberley region of Western Australia that would eventually make its way into the mammal collection of the Natural History Museum in London.

Recent work on this specimen suggests that it is in fact the western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii), thought to have been extinct in Australia for about 10,000 years.

The fact that specimen was collected as recently as around 110 years ago suggests that perhaps the species could still be living in Australia's remote north-west. It also highlights the importance of museum collections in understanding biodiversity, and its role in conservation.

For more information about this amazing discovery, read the Natural History Museum's news article, alternatively, the peer-reviewed publication is available online through ZooKeys.

A long-beaked echidna specimen

Natural History Museum long-beaked echidna specimen collected from Australia in 1901
Image copyright of the Natural History Museum