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Unlike most marsupials, the female numbat does not have a proper pouch.  Instead, her abdomen and thighs swell when she is nursing, and she has a patch of long, crimped hair on her belly for her joeys to cling to.  

The female numbat has one of the shortest pregnancies of any mammal, with her babies being born only two weeks after mating.  She will give birth to up to four joeys, and they will cling to her nipples and suckle as she continues to wander and hunt.  The young are born with short, stubby snouts to make nursing easier, and grow the long noses of adults after weaning.  Weaning occurs after nine months, but after six they are too big for the female to carry, and will be left at the nest while their mother hunts.

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Female numbats are ready to breed at one year of age.  In contrast, males only reach breeding age at around two.  As mating season approaches, a gland in the middle of the male’s chest secretes a strong-smelling substance that stains its fur bright red, making the animal look almost like it has a gaping chest wound.  This reddish oil is rubbed on rocks and legs to advertise the male’s presence to nearby females.

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Cu Rua, the world’s most important turtle, has died

Cu Rua, a rare Yangtze giant softshell turtle living in Vietnam, was found dead Tuesday after its body floated up to the surface of Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem lake. Thought to be over 100, its death brings the worldwide population of the rare turtle to three. For locals, the turtle’s demise hit hard.

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The Chinese giant salamander is the largest amphibian in the world today, reaching lengths of up to 1.8 metres, or almost six feet, and weighing up to 110 pounds.  It is also one of the longest living animals in the world, with a recently discovered specimen estimated to be around 200 years old.

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Revealed: hunting strategy of the endangered African wild dog

A new study led by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College has revealed that African wild dogs may be more robust than previously thought.

The researchers used custom-built GPS collars to collect position and speed data to reconstruct the hunt behaviour of an entire pack of African wild dogs in northern Botswana.

The researchers found that given the the opportunity, African wild dogs hunt with frequent short chases. In addition, the pack showed no evidence of coopertive hunting, apart from travelling together and sharing the kills made by an individual dog. 

Understanding the hunting strategies of a species helps conservationists to identify which areas should be protected, or where new populations can be reintroduced most successfully. 

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Image credit: Neil Jordan, Megan Classe,  Tambako The Jaguar

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Drunk dudes may have killed the world’s rarest fish

On April 30, three men shot through the locks and motion sensors of a security gate to enter Death Valley National Park’s Devils Hole, a 40-acre detached unit of the national park that’s a part of the Nevada’s Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Not only did they leave beer cans and vomit around the site, but one man swam in pool, leaving his boxers behind — and one of the world’s rarest fish, the Devils Hole pupfish, dead. There are so few of these pupfish left.

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The purple frog is also known as the Indian purple frog or the pignose frog, for obvious reasons.  It is found only in the Western Ghats mountain range in India.  Though the tadpoles had been known to western scientists since 1918, the adult frog was only officially described in 2003.