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Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo - Dendrolagus lumholtzi
Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo - Dendrolagus lumholtzi

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Macropodidae
Genus: Dendrolagus
Species: Dendrolagus lumholtzi Collett, 1884

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Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo range

Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) is a heavy-bodied tree-kangaroo found in rain forests of the Atherton Tableland Region of Queensland. Its status is classified as near threatened by the IUCN, and authorities consider it as rare. It is named after the Norwegian explorer Carl Sofus Lumholtz (1851–1922), who discovered the first specimen in 1883.

It is the smallest of all tree-kangaroos, with males weighing an average of 7.2 kg (16 lbs) and females 5.9 kg (13 lbs). Its head and body length ranges from 480–650 mm, and its tail, 600–740 mm. It has powerful limbs and has short, grizzled grey fur. Its muzzle, toes and tip of tail are black.

Social behaviour
Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo are generally solitary animals, with the exception of male-female mating and the long, intimate mother-joey relationship. Each kangaroo maintains a "home range" and will be hostile towards a member of the same gender that enters it (the one exception seems to be non-hostile encounters between adult males and their male offspring). Thus, the male will protect his own range, and visit the ranges of the females in his group. Mating takes place in episodes of about twenty minutes, and is often quite aggressive.

Journal Reference:
Mark D.B. Eldridge, Sally Potter, Kristofer M. Helgen, Martua H. Sinaga, Ken P. Aplin, Tim F. Flannery and Rebecca N. Johnson. 2018. Phylogenetic Analysis of the Tree-kangaroos (Dendrolagus) Reveals Multiple Divergent Lineages within New Guinea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. In Press. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2018.05.030

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Lumholtz's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzii), one of two species found in the wet tropics of north-east Queensland, Australia. (Photo: N. Chaffer).

• DNA sequence data obtained from 14 of the 17 tree-kangaroo subspecies.
• Paraphyletic long-footed and monophyletic short-footed groups were identified.
• Six major genetic lineages were present, one in Australia and five in New Guinea.
• Episodes of diversification occurred during the late Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene.
• Species-level divergences within current taxa necessitate taxonomic adjustments.

Amongst the Australasian kangaroos and wallabies (Macropodidae) one anomalous genus, the tree-kangaroos, Dendrolagus, has secondarily returned to arboreality. Modern tree-kangaroos are confined to the wet tropical forests of north Queensland, Australia (2 species) and New Guinea (8 species). Due to their behavior, distribution and habitat most species are poorly known and our understanding of the evolutionary history and systematics of the genus is limited and controversial. We obtained tissue samples from 36 individual Dendrolagus including representatives from 14 of the 17 currently recognised or proposed subspecies and generated DNA sequence data from 3 mitochondrial (3116 bp) and 5 nuclear (4097 bp) loci. Phylogenetic analysis of these multi-locus data resolved long-standing questions regarding inter-relationships within Dendrolagus. The presence of a paraphyletic ancestral long-footed and derived monophyletic short-footed group was confirmed. Six major lineages were identified: one in Australia (D. lumholtzi, D. bennettianus) and five in New Guinea (D. inustus, D. ursinus, a Goodfellow’s group, D. mbaiso and a Doria’s group). Two major episodes of diversification within Dendrolagus were identified: the first during the late Miocene/early Pliocene associated with orogenic processes in New Guinea and the second mostly during the early Pleistocene associated with the intensification of climatic cycling. All sampled subspecies showed high levels of genetic divergence and currently recognized species within both the Doria’s and Goodfellow’s groups were paraphyletic indicating that adjustments to current taxonomy are warranted.

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Thus we recommend the recognition of 13 previously described taxa as species within Dendrolagus, two in Australia (lumholtzi, bennettianus) and 11 in New Guinea (inustus, ursinus, mbaiso, dorianus, notatus, stellarum, scottae, spadix, matschiei, pulcherrimus, goodfellowi). However, further changes to Dendrolagus taxonomy may occur as the result of ongoing studies and the addition of currently unsampled taxa. In the future we aim to utilize museum specimens to increase sample number and geographic coverage, as well as utilizing genomic approaches (e.g. Bi et al., 2013; Mason et al., 2011; Rowe et al., 2011) to increase the data available to resolve relationships and elucidate evolutionary history.
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