Last week I gave you this cheeky chap to have a go at identifying:
There was some lovely wordplay in the answers, with Chris getting in early with this great one:
I thought I had a shrewed idea until I saw the Bilby in the background which could show this isn’t the elephant in the room. Coot is legs be too Bandi?
This rules out elephant shrews and correctly identifies it as some kind of bandicoot, thanks to its marsupial case companion. Then palfreyman1414 dropped an anagram into the mix with:
Mere ale plus Satan?
which is so nice I wish it was correct, but alas this isn’t a Long-nosed bandicoot Perameles nasuta, although it is in the same genus.
Allen Hazen wondered “How badly does fur fade in preserved specimens?” and that turned out to be the key question, since everyone shied away from the correct identification, because one of the characteristics of this species’ pelage (that’s mammal-fan speak for ‘fur’) is that it’s supposed to have two stripes on its hindquarters or, more accurately, bars. As it turns out, fur fades quite badly in preserved specimens.
This is in fact a Marl or Western barred bandicoot Perameles bougainville Quoy & Gaimard, 1824 (NMINH:1906.301.1).
These diminutive Australian marsupial insectivores are vulnerable to introduced predators like cats and foxes, so their wild population only remains on some islands after once being widespread across Western Australia.
Even on the islands where they have some protection from placental predators, they face issues with disease, since their population has shrunk by so much it has impacted on their genetic diversity – reducing resistance to disease at the population level. In particular, a virus that causes tumour growth is affecting the animals on some islands, leaving the species increasingly under pressure.
One island does remain free of the virus, so hopefully with proper management the Marls will be able to hang on in there.
Ta for this, yet again, Paolo. I have realised it is not just about guessing game and clever clues, but about how much I learn as I look up various guesses to find out if they match: so many more species and genera than just the one in question. So each week is an education!
A second for Palfreyman’s thanks! Given my interests and limited knowledge I don’t even try to “guess” the non-mammalian ones, but this is one of the WWWeb sites I enjoy most (and have learned a lot from). Thanks Paolo!
At one point in my career, I oversaw a collection of taxidermied specimens, retired from exhibits or donated, that our museum loaned to school teachers. Over many years of such, numerous specimens were displayed in sunny classroom corners or left in cars too long. Eventually, we had a very classic Southern Californian collection of bleached blonde specimens. The maskless raccoon was my favorite. I should have remembered this and not “barred” that species from consideration. As always, a fun and educational ride. Thanks Paolo