Caloprymnus campestris (Gould, 1843:81)
Desert rat-kangaroo, Desert rat kangaroo, Buff-nosed rat-kangaroo, Plains rat-kangaroo, Plain rat-kangaroo, oolacunta (aboriginal name), ngudlukanta (Wangkangurru)
Taxonomy & Nomenclature
Synonym/s: Bettongia campestris Gould, 1843 (original combination); Hypsiprymnus campestris (Gould, 1843:81)
Last Record: 1935
IUCN status: Extinct
Old IUCN site: https://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/3626/0
Early European specimens
This species was first recorded in 1841 when two or three specimens were caught and sent to John Gould in London by George Grey, and these provided the basis for Gould's description of the species (Gould, 1843). However no further specimens were collected during the century and the species was considered potentially extinct in the early 1900's.
Recently it has come to light that a specimen was collected by Henry James Hillier at Lake Killalpaninna, South Australia, between 1902 and 1905 (Vernes et al., Accepted).
It wasn't until September 1931, when Mr. Lou Reese, owner of Appamunna Station, sent Hedley Herbert Finlayson, Curator of Mammals at the South Australian Museum, the skin and skull of an individual in (Finlayson, 1932a,b) that the species was finally rediscovered. But by 1935 the species had disappeared again, and there have been no confirmed sightings or specimens since that date.
Of all recently extinct Australian species this is one of the best candidates for rediscovery. Since it occupied such a remote habitat, and was seemingly capable of great feats of both endurance and agility.
Unconfirmed reports, in chronological order:
1. Sightings have been made in 1956-7 and 1974-5, both following periods of rain (Carr & Robinson, 1997).
2. Fresh remains of C. campestris were apparently found in the 1980's (Lavery, 1985:46-48).*
3. Reports have also been collected up until 1988 (Carr & Robinson, 1997) from Clifton Hills Station, South Australia, where a bettong-like animal was said to have some material, presumably for nesting, in its tail, which is C. campestris behaviour.
4. Reports of the species darting out from spinifex grass clumps when disturbed by stockmen during the 1990's (Lavery & Kirkpatrick, 1997).
5. Night time in May 2011 at Peake Station (Oodnadatta Track) in South Australia (Robinson & Forrest, 2012).
* Although this publication is cited by several authors, it is in fact incorrect, as an examination of it shows no mention of any recently dead individuals. The actual source for these claims is therefore unknown to me.
Queensland (historically?), South Australia (historically) & Western Australia (prehistorically), Australia
"Skeletal remains reported from the surface in Webb's Cave, on Mundrabilla Station, to the east of Albany, provide the first record from Western Australia, indicating a much wider range prior to the introduction of foreign mammals."
(Troughton, 1957:166; but see: Lundelius, 1963)
Biology & Ecology
MCZ 37651 (female; skin and skull)
WAM 2655 (donated in 1945; Kitchener & Vicker, 1981:50)
M21674 (skin; Vernes et al., Accepted)
MV C 6788.2 (female, 70% ethanol) (source)
MV C 7727.1 (source)
Original scientific description:
Gould, John. (1843). On a new species of Kangaroo Rat. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1843: 81.
Anonymous. (1964). A preliminary list of rare mammals including those believed to be rare but concerning which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 11(Special Supplement): 4 pp.
Archer, Michael. (1974). New information about the Quaternary distribution of the Thylacine (Marsupialia: Thylacinidae) in Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 57(2): 43-50.
Australasian Mammal Assessment Workshop. (2008). Caloprymnus campestris. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. (https://www.iucnredlist.org). Downloaded on 01 May 2012.
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