Holding a specimen of the now extinct Australian rodent species Leporillus apicalis, the lesser stick-nest rat, in my hands for the first time in the museum’s collection. It was pretty moving… As amazed and lucky as I feel to see it in the flesh, feel it’s claws, fur and whiskers, I feel incredibly sad. To have it that close and that real, and yet know it’s entire species has been removed from this world for ever is a tragedy!
However, I am looking forward to working on these guys, as well as many other currently extant and extinct species of Australian rodents in the future. Hopefully the new sequencing techniques I’ll be implementing in my PhD project will be able to sequence a large portion of even the oldest specimens of extinct species and we can still learn more about them. They may be gone, but they’re not forgotten.
Below’s a picture of Leoprillus conditor, the Greater stick-nest rat, which is a sister species to the Lesser stick-nest rat and is still very much alive today thankfully!