Phalanger matanim Flannery, 1987:184

Telefomin cuscus



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status


Last record: 1997 (Leary et al., 2008; Fisher & Blomberg, 2012; Leary et al., 2016; Lee et al., 2017)

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)


A Telefomin cuscus was encountered, though not collected, in 1997 (Leary et. al., 2016). The entire habitat of this species is believed to have been destroyed during a huge bushfire in 1998. It is unlikely that any significant population survived the bushfires to repopulate the area, and no individuals have been reported since. However, an online story claims that Michael Smith has found a family eating one in presumably 2022 or 2023 (Sweetnam, 2023), which has reportedly been confirmed by Dr. Tim Flannery (Glen, 2023).



West Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea


Biology & Ecology




Holotype: AM M 14186

Type locality: "upper Sol River Valley, Telefomin area, West Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, 5°06'S 141°42'E, 2,600 m"


AM M 14702
DW 8393


Other specimens:

Three additional specimens are known (Leary et al., 2016), and must have been collected sometime between 1986 (when Flannery deposited the last of the then three known specimens) and 1998, when bushfires ravaged the entire area (Leary et. al. 2016)






Original scientific description:

Flannery, Tim F. (1987). A new species of Phalanger (Phalangeridae: Marsupialia) from montane western Papua New Guinea. Records of the Australian Museum 39(4): 183-193.


Other references:

Fisher, Diana O. and Blomberg, Simon P. (2012). Inferring Extinction of Mammals from Sighting Records, Threats, and Biological Traits. Conservation Biology 26(1): 57-67.

Flannery, Tim F. (1995). The Mammals of New Guinea, 2nd edition. Reed Books, Sydney, Australia.

Flannery, Tim F. (2005). The weather makers: our changing climate and what it means for life on earth. Text Publishing Company.

Flannery, Tim F. and Seri, L. (1990). The mammals of southern West Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea: their distribution, abundance, human use and zoogeography. Records of the Australian Museum 42(2): 173-208.

Freudenthal, M. and Martín-Suárez, E. (2013). Estimating body mass of fossil rodents. Scripta Geologica 145: 1-130. [1.1-2 kg estimate]

Glen, Allan. (4 March, 2023). British tourist spots three species thought to have been extinct. The Telegraph (online), available at: [Accessed 19 March 2023]

Holmes, Branden. (2021). What's Lost and What Remains: The Sixth Extinction in 100 Accounts (eBook). Self published.

Leary, T., Seri, L., Flannery, T., Wright, D., Hamilton, S., Helgen, K., Singadan, R., Menzies, J., Allison, A., James, R., Salas, L. and Dickman, C. (2008). Phalanger matanim. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. ( Downloaded on 02 July 2011.

Leary, T., Seri, L., Flannery, T., Wright, D., Hamilton, S., Helgen, K., Singadan, R., Menzies, J., Allison, A., James, R., Salas, L. & Dickman, C. 2016. Phalanger matanim. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16851A21950802. Accessed on 11 December 2021.

Lee, T. E., Fisher, D. O., Blomberg, S. P. and Wintle, B. A. (2017). Extinct or still out there? Disentangling influences on extinction and rediscovery helps to clarify the fate of species on the edge. Global Change Biology 23(2): 621-634.

Parnaby, Harry, Ingleby, Sandy and Divljan, Anja. (2017). Type specimens of non-fossil mammals in the Australian Museum, Sydney. Records of the Australian Museum 69(5): 277-420.

Silva, M. B. and Downing, J. A. (1995). CRC handbook of mammalian body masses. CRC Press: 1-359.

Sweetnam, James. (4 March, 2023). Brit tourist baffles expert by discovering three species thought to be extinct. Daily Star (online), available at: [Accessed 5 March 2023]


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