Meet The Antechinus, The Tiny Australian Marsupial That Humps Itself To Death

Big science news out of Australia: scientists have discovered three new species of antechinuses. This is notable for a few reasons. First of all, some members of the scientific community are worried that the mouse-sized marsupials may soon become endangered, so, I’m guessing, the existence of new species living out in the Australian bush could be a good thing. Second, it’s kind of wild to think about the fact that we’re still discovering new species of animals after hundreds and hundreds of years of research. And third, it gives me a really good excuse to inform you that every male antechinus literally humps itself to death as soon as it becomes sexually viable.

At this point, I will turn the discussion over to the good folks at I F*cking Love Science:

Antechinus males are known for their intense sex lives. By the time mating season begins, the male antechinus has already stopped making sperm and only seeks to empty the stockpiles. This comes in a wild frenzy, trying to quite literally mate as much as physically possible. He ignores food and sleep, and seeks only to mate. As the days progress, testosterone and stress hormone levels are at an all time high, fur begins to fall out, internal bleeding sets in, and the immune system fails, allowing gangrene, parasites, and liver failure to take over. Even after he is completely disheveled, he still seeks another mate up until his dying breath.

The mating season is 2-3 weeks long and culminates in the death of every antechinus male. Toward the end of this marathon of mating, the females show a decreased interest in the males. This could be because they have already conceived and just aren’t receptive to mating anymore, or it could be because the males look completely disgusting. [IFLScience]

This is insane. These little guys are basically a mix of every male college freshman in America and whatever the hell Hugh Hefner has been doing for the past ten years. And they’re doing all of it without even listening to Jodeci. Nature is crazy.

(Thanks to Sara for the tip)