Closer look at long-lost museum specimen offers new clues into persistence of endangered echidna
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After re-examining a museum specimen of one of the world’s rarest animals, biologists said they will scour the Australian backcountry to see if they can find a living specimen of the western long-beaked echidna, one of the world’s five egg-laying mammal species.
Until recently, scientists assumed that the critically endangered echidna went extinct in Australia thousands of years ago, but the overlooked specimen in the Natural History Museum in London. was collected from the wild in northwestern Australia in 1901.
Sometimes while working in museums, I find specimens that turn out to be previously undocumented species,” said Kristofer Helgen of the Smithsonian Institution, the lead author and the scientist to first report the significance of the echidna specimen. “But in many ways, finding a specimen like this, of such an iconic animal, with such clear documentation from such an unexpected place, is even more exciting.” Continue reading