A trio of researchers from the University of Melbourne and the University of Life Science, Sydney, has found an isolated mammal species that lost its fear of predators in just 13 generations.

In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, Chris Jolly, Jonathan Webb and Ben Phillips describe their study of protected northern quolls living in Australia and what they found.

As humans encroach on territory occupied by other species, those other species lose out. Often, the result is endangerment or extinction. That has been the case for northern quolls, which once inhabited large parts of northern Australia. After humans arrived, their numbers declined sharply due mostly to the introduction of invasive cane toads. To prevent their extinction, environmentalists captured several of them and released them on two small islands off the coast of Australia.

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