Did climate change claim its first mammal?

The last recorded sighting of a Bramble Cay melomys was in 2009, when a fisherman reported seeing a few of the small rodents take flight across the Australian island where they resided. Since then, biologists have suspected the Melomys rubicolahad gone extinct — the first mammal to die out because of climate change. In a recent announcement, the Australian government confirmed that hit had recategorized the species from endangered to extinct. It “was not a decision to take lightly,” Geoffrey Richardson, assistant secretary in the Department of the Environment and Energy, told Australian lawmakers. Researchers say Bramble Cay saw its volume of leafy plants shrink 97 between 2004 and 2014, likely due to rising sea levels that caused waves to wash over the island during storms and high tides, depriving the animal of food and cover.

Read more in the Washington Post.

Header Image: The last Bramble Cay melomys was seen in 2009. ©Ian Bell, EHP, State of Queensland