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Mountain Pygmy Possum

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Introduction

Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus) Scientific Name: Burramys parvus Common Name (s): Mountain Pygmy Possum, Burramys Brief description of the organism: o The Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus, Broom 1895) is the largest of five species of pygmy-possum in Australia; its other common name is Burramys. Kingdom Animalia Phylum Chordata Class Mammalia Order Diprotodontia Family Burramyidae Genus Burramys Size Head-body length: 11 cm Weight 45 g o It is the only Australian mammal restricted to the alpine-subalpine zone above 1400 m; it is restricted to Mountain Plum Pine (Podocarpus lawrencei) heathland growing over rock screes. o Burramys is a small omnivore weighing about 45 g; the Bogong Moth (Agrotis infusa) is its main food in Victoria. o It is the longest-lived small terrestrial mammal known. ...read more.

Middle

Despite the interesting nature of these finds all of this information remained in the minds of serious zoologists with a leaning towards palaeontology. - Later in the 1960s the residents of a ski lodge on Mt Higginbotham, in Victoria's snow country, noticed small, rat-like animals, which came into the lodge for shelter and food. - In August 1966, a local captured one of them to be taken to Melbourne for identification. It was there that zoologists immediately recognized the animal as a new species of pygmy possum. Then, after examining the animal's teeth, it was realized that the little mammal was in fact a living version of the hitherto fossilized Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus). - The discovery prompted research on the possum over the next 35 years and intensive surveys during the 1980s and 1990s lead to the identification of no more than a handful of populations, exclusively within the snow country of Victoria and NSW. ...read more.

Conclusion

o Fossil records of Burramys found in Jenolan and Buchan Caves have been dated to the last glacial period that ended about 10,000 years ago. o As the continent warmed up during the last 10,000 years, Burramys' range has contracted, moving up the mountains. If the climate continues to warm, the Mountain Pygmy Possum will be left with nowhere to go. Global warming may spell the end for this already vulnerable animal. o Long-term climatic change involving increasing aridity and adverse vegetation changes probably caused the mountain pygmy possums' overall decline in Australia. o Factors caused by man include habitat loss through ski resort development and predation by introduced cats and foxes. There are also possible impacts associated with 100 years of vegetation modification caused by grazing and burning in alpine and subalpine areas. ...read more.

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