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Researchers thought this furry little marsupial was extinct for 100 years, until it came to find them

Updated Dec 16th, 2017 10:44AM EST
crest-tailed mulgara

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It’s obviously not often that scientists get good news regarding regionally extinct creatures. Once an animal has been seemingly wiped from its natural home, the window of opportunity for saving it in its natural habitat has pretty much gone out the window. Now, one tiny marsupial in Australia is bucking that trend, remerging after a century of being presumed extinct, and it was found by scientists who weren’t even really looking for it.

The crest-tailed Mulgara is a pint-sized, rat-like carnivorous marsupial that makes its home in the desert. It’s an unassuming creature which was thought to have been pushed out of its habitat by other outback creatures like foxes and rabbits. It hadn’t been seen in a century and researchers feared the worst, until ecologists randomly found it alive once again during while conducting a study.

The little fella was spotted in Sturt National Park and was documented by scientists from the University of New South Wales.

“The crest-tailed mulgara was once widely distributed across sandy desert environments in inland Australia,” UNSW’s Dr Rebecca West explains. “The species weighs around 150 grams and has pale blonde fur and a thick tail with a distinctive black crest.”

Its resurrection was certainly a surprise for just about everybody, but that doesn’t mean the species won’t still need some serious help to hang on. A conservation effort to push some species out of certain parts of Australia’s wild lands is slated to begin in 2018. The goal of the effort is to help certain species regain a foothold and prevent their extinction, and the Mulgara will now be one of the species that should benefit from it.

The Mulgara, along with several other native mammal species have had a rough go lately due to invasive predators pushing into their territories. A massive fence will be constructed to keep creatures like rabbits and some predatory species like cats from preying on the locals, including the Mulgara.