by Hayley Geyle and David Chapple

Christmas Island forest skink and 12 mammals on list, which also includes the desert bettong, broad-cheeked hopping mouse and Nullarbor barred bandicoot

The Christmas Island forest skink is the first reptile known to have gone extinct in Australia since European colonization. More than 10% of the 320 land mammals known to have lived in Australia in 1788 are extinct. Photograph: Hal Cogger

The Australian government has officially acknowledged the extinction of 13 endemic species, including 12 mammals and the first reptile known to have been lost since European colonization.

The addition of the dozen mammal species confirms Australia’s unenviable position as the world’s capital for mammal extinction, lifting the total number of mammals known to have died out to 34.

None of the 13 is a surprise. All but one of the mammal extinctions is historic, with most having disappeared between the 1850s and 1950s.

The now extinct Christmas Island pipistrelle. Photograph: Lindy Lumsden

But the list also includes two species lost in the past decade, both from Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

As Guardian Australia has reported, the last Christmas Island pipistrelle, a species of bat, died in 2009. It was followed by the sole remaining Christmas Island forest skink – the first Australian reptile known to have become extinct – in 2014.

Both extinctions have previously been recorded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The updated list means more than 10% of the 320 land mammals known to have lived in Australia in 1788 are extinct.




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