Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access


A new dasyurid marsupial from Kroombit Tops, south-east Queensland, Australia: the Silver-headed Antechinus, Antechinus argentus sp. nov. (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae)

ANDREW M Baker, THOMAS Y Mutton, Harry B Hines


Antechinus argentus sp. nov. is currently only known from the plateau at the eastern escarpment of Kroombit Tops National Park, about 400km NNW of Brisbane and 60km SSW of Gladstone, south-east Queensland, Australia. Antechinus flavipes (Waterhouse) is also known from Kroombit Tops NP, 4.5km W of the nearest known population of A. argentus; A. mysticus Baker, Mutton and Van Dyck has yet to be found within Kroombit Tops, but is known from museum specimens taken at Bulburin NP, just 40km ESE, as well as extant populations about 400km to both the south-east and north-west of Kroombit NP. A. argentus can be easily distinguished in the field, having an overall silvery/grey appearance with much paler silver feet and drabber deep greyish-olive rump than A. flavipes, which has distinctive yellow-orange toned feet, rump and tail-base; A. argentus fur is also less coarse than that of A. flavipes. A. argentus has a striking silver-grey head, neck and shoulders, with pale, slightly broken eye-rings, which distinguish it from A. mysticus which has a more subtle greyish-brown head, pale buff dabs of eyeliner and more colourful brownish-yellow rump. Features of the dentary can also be used for identification: A. argentus differs from A. flavipes in having smaller molar teeth, as well as a narrower and smaller skull and from A. mysticus in having on average a narrower snout, smaller skull and dentary lengths and smaller posterior palatal vacuities in the skull. A. argentus is strongly divergent genetically (at mtDNA) from both A. flavipes (9.0–11.2%) and A. mysticus (7.2–7.5%), and forms a very strongly supported clade to the exclusion of all other antechinus species, in both mtDNA and combined (mtDNA and nDNA) phylogenies inferred here. We are yet to make detailed surveys in search of A. argentus from forested areas to the immediate east and north of Kroombit Tops. However, A. mysticus has only been found at these sites in low densities in decades past and not at all in several recent trapping expeditions conducted by the authors. With similar habitat types in close geographic proximity, it is plausible that A. argentus may be found outside Kroombit. Nevertheless, it is striking that from a range of surveys conducted at Kroombit Tops in the last 15 years and intensive surveys by the authors in the last 3 years, totalling more than 5 080 trap nights, just 13 A. argentus have been captured from two sites less than 6 km apart. If this is even close to the true geographic extent of the species, it would possess one of the smallest distributions of an Australian mammal species. With several threats identified, we tentatively recommend that A. argentus be listed as Endangered, pending an exhaustive trapping survey of Kroombit and surrounds.



Antechinus argentus, Antechinus flavipes, Antechinus mysticus, mammal, morphological, genetic, evolutionary, south-east Queensland, Gladstone

Full Text:

PDF/A (9.67 MB)


Archer, M. (1974) The development of cheek teeth in Antechinus flavipes (Marsupialia, Dasyuridae). Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 57, 54–63.

Archer, M. (1976) The dasyurid dentition and its relationships to that of didelphids, thylacinids, borhaenids (Marsupicarnivora) and peramelids (Peramelina: Marsupialia). Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series, 39, 1–34.

Baker, A.M & Van Dyck, S. (2012) Taxonomy and redescription of the Fawn Antechinus, Antechinus bellus (Thomas) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Zootaxa, 3613 (3), 201–228.

Baker, A.M. & Van Dyck, S. (2013a) Taxonomy and redescription of the Yellow-footed Antechinus, Antechinus flavipes (Waterhouse) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Zootaxa, 3649, 1–62.

Baker, A.M. & Van Dyck, S. (2013b) Taxonomy and redescription of the Atherton Antechinus, Antechinus godmani (Thomas) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Zootaxa, 3670 (4), 401–439.

Baker, A.M., Mutton, T.Y. & Van Dyck, S. (2012) A new dasyurid marsupial from eastern Queensland, Australia: the Buff-footed Antechinus, Antechinus mysticus sp. nov. (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Zootaxa, 3515, 1–37.

Bean A.R. (1997) Notes on Eucalyptus ser. Psathyroxyla Blakely (Myrtaceae) and other 'Ash group' eucalypts. Austrobaileya, 5, 125–135

Couper, P.J., Keim, L.D., & Hoskin, C.J. (2007) A new velvet gecko (Gekkonidae: Oedura) from south-east Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa, 1587, 27–41.

Czechura, G.V. (1986) Distant exiles: frogs and reptiles recorded from Kroombit Tops, southeastern Queensland. Queensland Naturalist, 27, 61–67.

Dickman, C.R. (1991) Use of trees by ground-dwelling mammals: implications for management. In: Lunney, D. (Ed.), Conservation of Australia’s Forest Fauna. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, pp. 125–136.

Dickman, C.R., Parnaby, H.E., Crowther, M.S. & King, D.H. (1998) Antechinus agilis (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae), a new species from the A. stuartii complex in southeastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology, 46, 1–26.

Eyre, T.J., Krieger, G., Venz M., Haseler, M., Hines, B., Hannah, D. & Schulz, M. (1998) Systematic Vertebrate Fauna Survey Project. Stage 1 – Vertebrate Survey in the South-East Queensland Bioregion. Report to Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee, Brisbane, 235 pp.

Hines, H.B. (2008) Frogs of the Southeast Queensland Bioregion - 2008 Presidential Address. The Queensland Naturalist, 46, 29–43.

Hoskin, C.J., Hines, H.B., Meyer, E., Clarke, J. & Cunningham, M. (2013) A new treefrog (Hylidae: Litoria) from Kroombit Tops, east Australia, and an assessment of conservation status. Zootaxa, 3646, 426–446.

Jones, B. & Baynes, A. (1989) Illustrated keys to Australian Mammalia to generic level. In: Walton, D.W. & Richardson, B.J. (Eds.), ‘Fauna of Australia Volume 1B: Mammalia.’. Australian Government Printing Service, Canberra, pp. 1075–1171.

Krajewski, C., Torunskey, R., Sipiorski, J.T. & Westerman, M. (2007) Phylogenetic relationships of the dasyurid marsupial genus Murexia. Journal of Mammalogy, 88, 696–705.

Lindeman, R. (2005) Fire strategy – Kroombit Tops National Park and Forest Reserve. Unpublished report of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

Marlow, B.J. (1961) Reproductive behaviour of the marsupial mouse, Antechinus flavipes (Waterhouse) (Marsupialia) and the development of the pouch young. Australian Journal of Zoology, 9, 203–220.

McAllan, B.M. (2003) Timing of reproduction in carnivorous marsupials. In: Jones, M., Dickman, C. & Archer, M. (Eds). Predators with Pouches: the Biology of Carnivorous Marsupials. CSIRO Publishing, Victoria, pp. 147–168. McAllan, B.M., Dickman, C.R. & Crowther, M.S. (2006) Photoperiod as a reproductive cue in the marsupial genus Antechinus: ecological and evolutionary consequences. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 87, 365–379.

McDonald, W.J.F. & Sharpe, P.R. (1986) The plant communities and flora of Kroombit Tops. The Queensland Naturalist, 27, 3–10.

Mutton, T.Y. (2011) Systematics and Evolution of the Dasyurid Marsupial Genus Antechinus. Honours Thesis, QUT, Brisbane, 65 pp.

Queensland Herbarium (2013) Regional Ecosystem Description Database (REDD). Version 6.1 (February 2013). Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Brisbane.

Ridgway, R. (1912) Colour Standards and Nomenclature. Published by the Author, United States National Museum, 43 pp.

Ronquist, F. & Huelsenbeck, J.P. (2003) MRBAYES 3: Bayesian phylogenetic inference under mixed models. Bioinformatics, 19, 1572–1574.

Schulz, M. (1994) Fauna of Kroombit Tops State Forest. Internal Report, Department of Primary Industries (Forestry), Brisbane, 61 pp.

Smith, G.C. (1984) The biology of the Yellow-footed Antechinus, Antechinus flavipes (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae), in a swamp forest of Kinaba Island, Cooloola, Queensland. Australian Wildlife Research, 11, 465–80.

Soderquist, T.R. (1995) Ontogeny of sexual dimorphism in size among polytocous mammals: tests of two carnivorous marsupials. Journal of Mammalogy, 76, 376–390.

Soderquist, T. & Rhind, S. (2008) Brush-tailed Phascogale Phascogale tapoatafa In: Strahan, R., & Van Dyck, S. (Eds.), The Mammals of Australia (3rd Edition). Reed New Holland, Australia, pp. 103–107.

StatSoft, Inc. (2004) STATISTICA (data analysis software system), version 7.

van der Ree, R. (2003) The occurrence of the yellow-footed antechinus Antechinus flavipes in remnant linear habitats in north-eastern Victoria. Australian Mammalogy, 25, 97–100.

Van Dyck, S. (1997) Revisionary studies in Murexia and Antechinus (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of New South Wales, Australia, 423 pp.

Van Dyck, S. (2002) Morphology-based revision of Murexia and Antechinus (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 48, 239–330.

Van Dyck, S. & Crowther, M.S. (2000) Reassessment of northern representatives of the Antechinus stuartii complex (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae): A. subtropicus sp. nov. and A. adustus new status. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 45, 611–635.

Williams, R. & Williams, A. (1982) The life cycle of Antechinus swainsonii (Dasyuridae, Marsupialia). In: Archer, M. (Ed.), Carnivorous Marsupials. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, pp. 91–95.

Willmott, W.F. & Moore, T. (2006) Rocks and Landscapes of the National Parks of Central Queensland. Geological Society of Australia, Queensland Division, 170 pp.

Woodall, P. (1986) Mammals at Kroombit Tops, central Queensland. Queensland Naturalist, 27, 76–79.

Woolley, P.A. (1966) Reproduction in Antechinus spp. and other dasyurid marsupials. Symposia of the Zoological Society of London, 15, 281–294.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand
A founding journal of Biotaxa