n African Zoology - New status for two African giant forest shrews, and (Mammalia: Soricomorpha), based on molecular and geometic morphometric analyses : research article

Volume 48, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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Hutterer, 2003 (replacement name for Heim de Balsac, 1968) from West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast) and Thomas, 1906 from Central Africa (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo) were regarded as members of a single species until recently. A phylogenetic analysis including three mitochondrial (16S, cytb and COI) and one nuclear marker (BRCA) shows that is the sister taxon of , a species also endemic to West Africa. is part of the group and closely related to and . Calculation of genetic distances between cytb sequences confirms this pattern (divergence of 13.5% between and ). An analysis of 112 skulls using morphometric geometrics provides evidence of marked shape differences between the two taxa. Despite close external morphological resemblances, we found diagnostic external and craniodental characters between these two forms. We therefore propose to treat and as distinct species. Similar morphological features exhibited by these two African giant forest shrews, especially their large size, may be the result of homoplasy due to convergent evolutionary pressure. We also investigated the phenotypic diversification in size and skull shape within and discovered strong intraspecific variability.

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