|Paradoxurus aureus |
Two species of palm civet are currently known from Sri Lanka: the widespread common species, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus (Pallas, 1777), and the endemic golden species, Paradoxurus zeylonensis (Pallas, 1778). The latter has two ‘morphs’, one golden and one dark brown, both of which are recorded from all three major biotic zones in Sri Lanka (wet zone, dry zone, and cloud forest). We have examined specimens of both ‘morphs’ from all zones, and conclude that there are actually several species involved: names are available for two of them, we describe a third as a new species, and we draw attention to a probable fourth species, based on two distinctive specimens, the provenance of which are unfortunately unknown. The name zeylonensis probably does not apply to a golden palm civet at all.
Keywords: New species – Paradoxurus aureus – Paradoxurus montanus – Paradoxurus stenocephalus – Paradoxurus zeylonesis.
At present, three species of endemic palm civet can be distinguished in Sri Lanka.
Paradoxurus aureus F. CUVIER, 1822
GOLDEN WET-ZONE PALM CIVET
Paradoxurus montanus KELAART, 1852
SRI LANKAN BROWN PALM CIVET
Paradoxurus stenocephalus SP. NOV.
GOLDEN DRY-ZONE PALM CIVET
Etymology: Narrow-headed (Greek stenos = narrow, kephalos = head).
Paradoxurus SP. NOV.?
The endemic palm civets (Paradoxurus) of Sri Lanka form not one single species but at least three: one of
these is here described as new. They are distinguished by external features and by their skulls. Two of the species are golden in colour: one is known from two specimens from the dry zone, and the other is found in the wet zone, apparently extending into the cloud forest. By contrast, there is so far no evidence for any variation according to climatic zones in the dark-coloured species, and for the moment we class them in one single species. Two further specimens are quite different from any other, but owing to the uncertainty surrounding their provenance they cannot be described taxonomically.
The name P. zeylonensis, usually used for an endemic Sri Lankan palm civet, may well apply instead to the common palm civet, P. hermaphroditus. The earliest name deﬁnitely applicable to one of the presently described species is P. aureus F. Cuvier, 1822.
Groves, C. P., Rajapaksha, C., Mamemandra-Arachchi, K. 2009. The Taxonomy of the Endemic Golden Palm Civet of Sri Lanka. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 155: 238–251. doi: dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00451.x