Friday, December 1, 2023

[Mammalogy • 2023] Mesechinus orientalis • A New Species of Forest Hedgehog (Eulipotyphla: Erinaceidae: Mesechinus) from eastern China

Mesechinus orientalis
Shi, Yao, He, Bai, Zhou, Fan, Su, Nie, Yang, Onditi, Jiang et Chen, 2023  
Eastern Forest Hedgehog, 华东林猬  

The hedgehog genus Mesechinus (Erinaceidae, Eulipotyphla) is currently comprised of four species, M. dauuricus, M. hughi, M. miodon, and M. wangi. Except for M. wangi, which is found in southwestern China, the other three species are mainly distributed in northern China and adjacent Mongolia and Russia. From 2018 to 2023, we collected seven Mesechinus specimens from Anhui and Zhejiang provinces, eastern China. Here, we evaluate the taxonomic and phylogenetic status of these specimens by integrating molecular, morphometric, and karyotypic approaches. Our results indicate that the Anhui and Zhejiang specimens are distinct from the four previously recognized species and are a new species. We formally described it here as Mesechinus orientalis sp. nov. It is the only Mesechinus species occurring in eastern China and is geographically distant from all known congeners. Morphologically, the new species is most similar to M. hughi, but it is distinguishable from that species by the combination of its smaller size, shorter spines, and several cranial characteristics. Mesechinus orientalis sp. nov. is a sister to the lineage composed of M. hughi and M. wangi from which it diverged approximately 1.10 Ma.

Key words: Anhui, mammals, phylogeny, taxonomy

A living Mesechinus orientalis sp. nov. (XC 2205003) from Xuancheng, Anhui.

 Mesechinus orientalis sp. nov.
Suggested common name: Eastern Forest Hedgehog, 
华东林猬 (Huadong Linwei).

Diagnosis: This is a small-bodied hedgehog (GLS = 49.95 ± 1.69 mm), similar to M. hughi, but smaller than other Mesechinus species. It has the shortest spines in the genus (18–20 mm); the spines have four-colour rings, similar to the spines of M. dauuricus and M. hughi, but different from those of M. miodon and M. wangi (Fig. 8). The parietal is higher than the frontals, which differs from that of M. hughi and M. wangi (Fig. 9). The P2 is two-rooted and not completely fused (Fig. 4). The protocone of P3 is vestigial, which differs from that of M. hughi, and smaller than P2, which distinguishes it from M. dauuricus. The dental formula of M. orientalis sp. nov. [I 3/2, C1/1, P 3/2, M 3/3 (×2) = 36], which distinguishes it from M. wangi. 
Etymology: The specific name orientalis is derived from the Latin oriens, “the east”, and suffix -alis, “pertaining to”, in reference to the new species’ eastern distribution in Anhui and Zhejiang provinces in eastern China.

 Zifan Shi, Hongfeng Yao, Kai He, Weipeng Bai, Jiajun Zhou, Jingyi Fan, Weiting Su, Wenhui Nie, Shuzhen Yang, Kenneth O. Onditi, Xuelong Jiang, Zhongzheng Chen. 2023. A New Species of Forest Hedgehog (Mesechinus, Erinaceidae, Eulipotyphla, Mammalia) from eastern China. ZooKeys. 1185: 143-161. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.1185.111615