The Dibbler


Visitor Engagement Volunteer Geoff Oliver writes:

On the lower ground floor of the museum amongst the huge imposing skeletons of
the Elephants and the Giant Ground Sloth, if you look carefully, you can find
some little gems! Whenever I walk past the glass case containing the
marsupials, there is one small exhibit which never fails to put a smile on my
face. This is the ‘Dibbler’ (Where else but in Australia would they come up with
a name like that!). One of its common names is the ‘Broad-Footed Pouched
Mouse’. The bottom of its broad feet contain grooves running along the pads
that act like suckers and enable it to grip to trees and rocks. It has the scientific
name today of Parantechinus apicalis, although the label in the specimen
describes it as Phascogale apicalis. This shows how it has been moved at a
later date into a different genus as more has been learnt about its relationship
with other species. It is a nocturnal carnivorous marsupial feeding on mice,
small birds, lizards, insects and flower nectar, and is found on the southwest
mainland of Western Australia and some of its offshore islands. Marsupials are
related to placental mammals but reproduce whereby the embryo leaves the
uterus very early in its development and enters the mothers pouch. Here it
attaches to one of the nipples and continues its development until it has grown
large enough to be able to leave the pouch. The Dibbler was believed to have
become extinct but was rediscovered in 1967 after being lost for over 80 years.
It remains an endangered species. So next time you are passing the marsupial
case glance down at the Dibbler and see if it puts a smile on your face too?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s