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A critically endangered mammal thought to be extinct in Australia since the last ice age may still exist there, a new study suggests.
That speculation comes from the discovery that at least one long-beaked echidna, an egg-laying mammal thought to exist only in New Guinea, was found in Australia in 1901 and that native Aborigine populations reported seeing the animal more recently. The 1901 specimen, described in the Dec. 28 issue of the journal Zookeys, had been shot and stuffed and was lying in a drawer, long forgotten, in the Natural History Museum in London.
While short-beaked echidnas and duckbill platypuses still live in Australia, the long-beaked echidna, the largest monotreme in the world, was thought to live only in rainforests of New Guinea. The secretive creature, which can weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kilograms), is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.