Thursday, May 10, 2018

[Mammalogy • 2018] Palawanosorex muscorum • A New Genus and Species of Shrew (Mammalia: Soricidae) from Palawan Island, Philippines

 Palawanosorex muscorum
Hutterer, Balete, Giarla, Heaney & Esselstyn, 2018

Illustration: Velizar Simeonovski ||  photo by Danilo Balete

A 2007 survey of small mammals on Mt. Mantalingahan (2,086 m elevation), southern Palawan Island, Philippines, obtained specimens of a distinctive, previously unknown shrew (Soricidae). We describe these specimens as representing a new, monotypic genus and species, Palawanosorex muscorum. The new species was common on Mt. Mantalingahan from 1,550 to 1,950 m (near the peak) but was not detected from 700 to 1,300 m elevation. The previously known native, syntopic shrew, Crocidura palawanensis, has a slender body, slender fore and hind feet, and a long, thin tail with a few long bristles. In contrast, the new species has a stout body, broad fore feet, long claws, and a short tail covered by short, dense fur but no bristles. The dental formula traditionally used would result in assignment of the new species to Suncus, but several distinctive external and cranial features are present, and phylogenetic analyses of thousands of ultraconserved elements suggest P. muscorum is sister to most other Crocidurinae, a clade represented throughout Southeast Asia but numerically dominated by African species. The new species is a distant relative of Suncus murinus (the type species of Suncus) and all other known Southeast Asian species, including the only other shrew known to occur on Palawan (Crocidura batakorum). A time-calibrated phylogenetic analysis estimates divergence between Palawanosorex and its closest known relatives at approximately 10 Ma.

Key words: endemism, Palawanosorex new genus, P. muscorum new species, Philippines, phylogeny, Soricidae, Southeast Asia, taxonomy, ultraconserved elements

Palawanosorex muscorum
Illustration: Velizar Simeonovski 

Palawan moss shrew Palawanosorex muscorum lives only on Mount Mantalingahan in the Philippines.
photo: Danilo Balete

Family Soricidae G. Fischer, 1814 
Subfamily Crocidurinae Milne-Edwards, 1872 

Palawanosorex, new genus

Etymology.— Named for the island of Palawan in combination with Latin sorex, shrew. Gender of genus is masculine.

Palawanosorex muscorum, new species

Etymology.— The species name was derived from muscorum, genitive of Latin musci, mosses, meaning “of the mosses,” referring to the mossy habitat of the shrew. As an English vernacular name, we propose “Palawan Moss Shrew.”


Palawanosorex muscorum was found on Mt. Mantalingahan, a mountain on Palawan Island in the Philippines. Mt. Mantalingahan is what some scientists call a 'sky island.'
photo by Danilo Balete

Palawanosorex muscorum was found on Mt. Mantalingahan, a mountain on Palawan Island in the Philippines. Mt. Mantalingahan is what some scientists call a 'sky island.'
photo by Danilo Balete

Rainer Hutterer, Danilo S. Balete, Thomas C. Giarla, Lawrence R. Heaney and Jacob A. Esselstyn. 2018. A New Genus and Species of Shrew (Mammalia: Soricidae) from Palawan Island, Philippines. Journal of Mammalogy. gyy041  DOI:  10.1093/jmammal/gyy041 
New shrew species discovered on 'sky island' in Philippines via @physorg_com


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