Dec. 9 (UPI) -- A recent discovery has given scientists hope that the devastating brushfires in Australia in the summer did not completely wipe out a group of the world's smallest possum species.
Researchers found a little pygmy possum on Kangaroo Island this month, a positive sign that the unique species still survives there.
Also known as the Tasmanian pygmy possum or tiny pygmy possum, it is the world's smallest possum species and weigh just about 0.25 ounces. Before last week, they hadn't been seen on the island since wildfires began early this year, which in the following months burned almost half of Kangaroo Island, located just off the southern Australia coast.
Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife said it worked with private property owners and made the find last Friday. They posted photos of the little pygmy possum to their Facebook page.
Fauna ecologist Pat Hodgens, who found the little guy, called the discovery "extremely exciting."
"There's only really been 113 formal records of the species [ever on Kangaroo Island]," Hodgens said. "So certainly not very common and, obviously, the summer bushfires burnt through much of that habitat that species had, but we were certainly hopeful that we would find them."
The group said on its Facebook page it also found a number of other animals, including Western pygmy possums, which are also quite small and native to Australia.
More than three billion animals in Australia were killed or displaced by the "Black Summer" wildfires this year. The fires killed at least 33 people and burned millions of acres.
The fires killed, injured or displaced more than 60,000 koalas, which were already in rapid decline as their habitats shrink because of urbanization, the World Wide Fund said in a report this week.