Melomys rubicola Thomas, 1924:298

Bramble Cay melomys, Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Melomys leucogaster rubicola Thomas, 1924:298


Conservation Status


Last record: 2009 (Woinarski & Burbidge, 2016)

IUCN status: Extinct



Bramble Cay (=Maizab Kaur =Massaramcoer =Baramaki) (& Long Island?), Torres Strait, Australia

Type locality: "Bramble Cay (as Bramble Key), Torres Strait, Qld. "about 9°S., 144°E."" (Mahoney & Richardson, 1988:163)


Considered endemic to Bramble Cay, a specimen probably collected in 1845 from Long Island may be of this species but cannot be confidently assigned due to the poor preservation of the specimen (Thomas, 1924).


Biology & Ecology

"Ecology: terrestrial"

(Mahoney & Richardson, 1988:163)



Holotype: BMNH (male; skin & skull) (Mahoney & Richardson, 1988:163)


Other specimens:

SAM 13256 (Roycroft et al., 2021, 2022)






Original scientific description:

Thomas, Oldfield. (1924). Some new Australasian Muridae. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (9) 13: 296-299.


Other references:

Breed, W. G. 1984. Sperm head structure in the Hydromyinae (Rodentia: Muridae): A further evolutionary development of the subacrosomal space in mammals. Gamete Research 10: 31-44.

Brook, Barry W., Buettel, Jessie C. and Jarić, Ivan. (Accepted). A fast re‐sampling method for using reliability ratings of sightings with extinction‐date estimators. Ecology. [Abstract]

Burton, Adrian. (2016). Staving off extinction. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14(10): 580.

Curtis, Lee K., Dennis, Andrew J., McDonald, Keith R., Kyne, Peter M. and Debus, Stephen J. S. (eds.). Queensland's Threatened Animals. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. xv + 449 pp.

Dennis, A. J. (2008). Bramble Cay Melomys, Melomys rubicola. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The Mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 673-674. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

Dennis, A. J. (2012). Bramble Cay melomys Melomys rubicola, pp. 398-399. In: Curtis, L. K., Dennis, A. J., McDonald, K. R., Kyne, P. M. and Debus, S. J. S. (eds.). Queensland’s Threatened Animals. CSIRO Publishing.

Dennis, A., and Storch, D. 1998. Conservation and taxonomic status of the Bramble Cay melomys, Melomys rubicola. Report to Environment Australia. Queensland Department of Environment, Brisbane.

Dennis, A. J. and Waller, N. L. (2023). Bramble Cay Melomys, Melomys rubicola, pp. 423-424. In: Baker, Andrew M. and Gynther, Ian C. (eds.). Strahan’s Mammals of Australia (4th ed.). Wahroonga, NSW: Reed New Holland Publishers. 848 pp.

Dickman, C. R., Leung, L. K. P. and Van Dyck, S. M. (2000). Status, ecological attributes and conservation of native rodents in Queensland. Wildlife Research 27: 333-346.

Edwards, C. (1875). Narrative of the Chevert’s Voyage to New Guinea. Evening News 2633 p 2. Thursday, December 9, 1875.

Ellison, J. C. (1998). Natural history of Bramble Cay, Torres Strait. Atoll Research Bulletin 455: 1-33.

Elvish, R. and Walker, T. A. (1991). Seabird Islands. Bramble Cay, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Corella 15: 109-111.

Flannery, T. (1995). Mammals of New Guinea. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.

Fulton, Graham R. (2016). Bramble Cay Melomys Melomys rubicola Thomas 1924: Specimens in the Macleay Museum. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 138: 59-60.

Fulton, Graham R. (2017). The Bramble Cay melomys: the first mammalian extinction due to human-induced climate change. Pacific Conservation Biology 23(1): 1-3.

Gynther, I., Fell, D. G. and Freeman, A. (2014). Results of a March 2014 Survey of Bramble Cay and Three Other Uninhabited Islands in the North-eastern Torres Strait, with Particular Reference to the Bramble Cay Melomys. Unpublished report to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland Government, Brisbane.

Gynther, I., Waller, N. and Leung, L.K.-P. (2016). Confirmation of the extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys Melomys rubicola on Bramble Cay, Torres Strait: results and conclusions from a comprehensive survey in August–September 2014. Unpublished report to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland Government, Brisbane.

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

Iredale, Tom and Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1934). A check-list of the mammals recorded from Australia. Mem. Aust. Mus. 6: i-xii, 1-122.

Jackson, Stephen and Groves, Colin. (2015). Taxonomy of Australian Mammals. Clayton South, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. 529 pp. [p. 197]

Latch, P. (2008). Recovery plan for the Bramble Cay Melomys Melomys rubicola. Report to Department of the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Brisbane: Environmental Protection Agency.

Lean, Len. (2019). Climate change: World's first mammal declared extinct in Australia. Guardian (Sydney), 10 April, 1864: 7.

Lee, A. K. (1995). The Action Plan for Australian Rodents. Canberra: Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage.

Limpus, C. J., Parmenter, C. J. and Watts, C. H. S. (1983). Melomys rubicola, an endangered murid rodent endemic to the Great Barrier Reef of Queensland. Australian Mammalogy 6(2): 77-79.

Low, Tim and Booth, Carol. (2023). GONE: Australian animals extinct since the 1960s. Invasive Species Council Inc.

Mahoney, J. A. and Richardson, B. J. (1988). Muridae, pp. 154-192. In: Walton, D. W. (ed.). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 5. Mammalia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. x + 273 pp. [p. 163]

Menzies, J. I. (1996). A systematic revision of Melomys (Rodentia: Muridae) of New Guinea. Australian Journal of Zoology 44: 367-426.

Roycroft, Emily et al. (2021). Museum genomics reveals the rapid decline and extinction of Australian rodents since European settlement. PNAS 118(27): e2021390118.

Roycroft, Emily et al. (2022). New Guinea uplift opens ecological opportunity across a continent. Current Biology.

Sweatman, J. (unpublished). Journal of a surveying voyage to the N.E. coast of Australia and Torres' Strait in her Maj. Schooner "Bramble", Lieut. C. B. Yule, Commander. 1842-1847. Vol 2: 15-16.

Tate, G. H. H. (1951). Results of the Archbold Expeditions. No. 65. The rodents of Australia and New Guinea. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 97: 296.

Walker, T. A. (1988). The flora and fauna of Bramble Cay, January 1987. Queensland Naturalist 28: 32-36.

Waller, Natalie, Gynther, Ian C., Freeman, Alastair B., Lavery, Tyrone H. and Leung, Luke K.-P. (2014). Has Australia lost another mammal species? The story of the Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola). Programme and Abstracts, 2014 AGM, Australian Mammal Society.

Waller, Natalie, Gynther, Ian C., Freeman, Alastair B., Lavery, Tyrone H. and Leung, Luke K.-P. (2017). The Bramble Cay melomys Melomys rubicola (Rodentia: Muridae): a first mammalian extinction caused by human-induced climate change? Wildlife Research 44(1): 9-21. [Abstract]

Watts, C. H. S. (1995). Bramble Cay melomys, Melomys rubicola, pp. 637-638. In: Strahan, Ronald (ed.). The Mammals of Australia. Chatswood, N.S.W.: Reed Books. 756 pp.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Braby, M. F., Burbidge, A. A., Coates, D., Garnett, S. T., Fensham, R. J., Legge, S. M., McKenzie, N. L., Silcock, J L. and Murphy, B. P. (2019). Reading the black book: The number, timing, distribution and causes of listed extinctions in Australia. Biological Conservation 239: 108261.

Woinarski, J. and Burbidge, A. A. (2016). Melomys rubicola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T13132A97448475. Downloaded on 21 February 2018.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Burbidge, A. A. and Harrison, P. L. (2014). The Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Garnett, Stephen T., Legge, Sarah M. and Lindenmayer, David B. (2016). The contribution of policy, law, management, research, and advocacy failings to the recent extinctions of three Australian vertebrate species. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12852 [Abstract]

Woodroffe, C., Kennedy, D., Hopley, D., Rasmussen, C., & Smithers, S. (2000). Holocene reef growth in Torres Strait. Marine Geology 170(3-4): 331-346.

Ziembicki, Mark R. et al. (2015). Stemming the tide: progress towards resolving the causes of decline and implementingmanagement responses for the disappearing mammal fauna of northern Australia. THERYA 6(1): 169-225.


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