Multi-locus analyses reveal four giraffe species instead of one.

Current Biology 26 (18): 2543-2549.



Traditionally, one giraffe species and up to eleven subspecies have been recognized; however, nine subspecies are commonly accepted. Even after a century of research, the distinctness of each giraffe subspecies remains unclear, and the genetic variation across their distribution range has been incompletely explored. Recent genetic studies on mtDNA have shown reciprocal monophyly of the matrilines among seven of the nine assumed subspecies. Moreover, until now, genetic analyses have not been applied to biparentally inherited sequence data and did not include data from all nine giraffe subspecies. We sampled natural giraffe populations from across their range in Africa, and for the first time individuals from the nominate subspecies, the Nubian giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis Linnaeus 1758 , were included in a genetic analysis. Coalescence-based multi-locus and population genetic analyses identify at least four separate and monophyletic clades, which should be recognized as four distinct giraffe species under the genetic isolation criterion. Analyses of 190 individuals from maternal and biparental markers support these findings and further suggest subsuming Rothschild’s giraffe into the Nubian giraffe, as well as Thornicroft’s giraffe into the Masai giraffe . A giraffe survey genome produced valuable data from microsatellites, mobile genetic elements, and accurate divergence time estimates. Our findings provide the most inclusive analysis of giraffe relationships to date and show that their genetic complexity has been underestimated, highlighting the need for greater conservation efforts for the world’s tallest mammal.


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First insights into past biodiversity of giraffes based on mitochondrial sequences from museum specimens.

European Journal of Taxonomy 703: 1–33. ISSN 2118-9773.

Volltext (PDF)


Intensified exploration of sub-Saharan Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries led to many newly described giraffe subspecies. Several populations described at that time are now extinct, which is problematic for a full understanding of giraffe taxonomy. In this study, we provide mitochondrial sequences for 41 giraffes, including 19 museum specimens of high importance to resolve giraffe taxonomy, such as Zarafa from Sennar and two giraffes from Abyssinia (subspecies camelopardalis), three of the first southern individuals collected by Levaillant and Delalande (subspecies capensis), topotypes of the former subspecies congoensis and cottoni, and giraffes from an extinct population in Senegal. Our phylogeographic analysis shows that no representative of the nominate subspecies camelopardalis was included in previous molecular studies, as Zarafa and two other specimens assigned to this taxon are characterized by a divergent haplogroup, that the former subspecies congoensis and cottoni should be treated as synonyms of antiquorum, and that the subspecies angolensis and capensis should be synonymized with giraffa, whereas the subspecies wardi should be rehabilitated. In addition, we found evidence for the existence of a previously unknown subspecies from Senegal (newly described in this study), which is now extinct. Based on these results, we propose a new classification of giraffes recognizing three species and 10 subspecies. According to our molecular dating estimates, the divergence among these taxa has been promoted by Pleistocene climatic changes resulting in either savannah expansion or the development of hydrographical networks (Zambezi, Nile, Lake Chad, Lake Victoria).


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Dienstag, 10 November 2020 17:38

POCOCK, R. I. (1939)

The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. 

Mammals Vol. 1:Prmates and Carnivora (in part), Families Felidae and Viverridae

Genus Prionailurus Severtzow: pp. 265–284.

Taylor & Francis Ltd. Publishers, London.



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Montag, 09 März 2020 23:36

DONNDORFF, J. A. (1792)

Zoologische Beyträge zur XIII. Ausgabe des Linnéischen Natursystems.
Erster Band: Die Säugethiere.

919 Seiten. Verlag der Weidmannschen Buchhandlung Leipzig.



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Dienstag, 23 Juli 2019 17:50


Zur Geschichte und Kultur der Schweinezucht und -haltung.
1. Mitteilung: Zur Domestikation und Verbreitung der Hausschweine in der Welt.

Züchtungskunde, 78 (1): 55–68. ISSN 0044-5401


Die Erstdomestikation von Schweinen erfolgte etwa 7800 Jahre v. Chr. wie die von Rind, Schaf und Ziege im Gebiet des sogenannten fruchtbaren Halbmondes (Vorderasien). Nach archäozoologischen Befunden sind heute weitere autochthone Domestikationszentren für Schweine in Südostasien, China (ab dem Ende des 7. Jahrtausends v. Chr.) und Südschweden (2400 Jahre v. Chr.) nachweisbar. Spätere lokale, teilweise zufällige Einkreuzungen von Wildtieren waren nach den gegenwärtigen Befunden nur von geringer Bedeutung für den Hausschweinebestand. Aus dem ursprünglichen Domestikationsgebiet heraus verbreiteten Siedler die Hausschweinehaltung nach Ägypten, Indien und auf die Balkanhalbinsel. Für Mitteleuropa sind Einwanderungswege über das Mittelmeer nach Südeuropa sowie entlang der großen europäischen Flüsse nachgewiesen (ab 5500v. Chr.). Während polynesische Einwanderer schon frühzeitig Hausschweine auf ozeanische Inseln mitbrachten (ab 4500 v. Chr.), sind in Amerika, in großen Teilen Afrikas und in Australien erst mit Beginn der europäischen Kolonisation Schweine gehalten worden.



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Genome-Wide Evolutionary Analysis of Natural History and Adaptation in the World’s Tigers.

Current Biology 28 (23). 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.019.


No other species attracts more international resources, public attention, and protracted controversies over its intraspecific taxonomy than the tiger (Panthera tigris) [1, 2]. Today, fewer than 4,000 free-ranging tigers survive, covering only 7% of their historical range, and debates persist over whether they comprise six, five, or two subspecies [3–6]. The lack of consensus over the number of tiger subspecies has partially hindered the global effort to recover the species from the brink of extinction, as both captive breeding and landscape intervention of wild populations increasingly require an explicit delineation of the conservation management units [7]. The recent coalescence to a late Pleistocene bottleneck (circa 110 kya) [5, 8, 9] poses challenges for detecting tiger subspecific morphological traits, suggesting that elucidating intraspecific evolution in the tiger requires analyses at the genomic scale. Here, we present whole-genome sequencing analyses from 32 voucher specimens that resolve six statistically robust monophyletic clades corresponding to extant subspecies, including the recently recognized Malayan tiger (P. tigris jacksoni). The intersubspecies gene flow is very low, corroborating the recognized phylogeographic units. We identified multiple genomic regions that are candidates for identifying the adaptive divergence of subspecies. The body-size-related gene ADH7 appears to have been strongly selected in the Sumatran tiger, perhaps in association with adaptation to the tropical Sunda Islands. The identified genomic signatures provide a solid basis for recognizing appropriate conservation management units in the tiger and can benefit global conservation strategic planning for this charismatic megafauna icon.


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Planning tiger recovery: Understanding intraspecific variation for effective conservation.

Science Advances  26 Jun 2015: 1 (5) e1400175; DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400175


Although significantly more money is spent on the conservation of tigers than on any other threatened species, today only 3200 to 3600 tigers roam the forests of Asia, occupying only 7% of their historical range. Despite the global significance of and interest in tiger conservation, global approaches to plan tiger recovery are partly impeded by the lack of a consensus on the number of tiger subspecies or management units, because a comprehensive analysis of tiger variation is lacking. We analyzed variation among all nine putative tiger subspecies, using extensive data sets of several traits [morphological (craniodental and pelage), ecological, molecular]. Our analyses revealed little variation and large overlaps in each trait among putative subspecies, and molecular data showed extremely low diversity because of a severe Late Pleistocene population decline. Our results support recognition of only two subspecies: the Sunda tiger, Panthera tigris sondaica, and the continental tiger, Panthera tigris tigris, which consists of two (northern and southern) management units. Conservation management programs, such as captive breeding, reintroduction initiatives, or trans-boundary projects, rely on a durable, consistent characterization of subspecies as taxonomic units, defined by robust multiple lines of scientific evidence rather than single traits or ad hoc descriptions of one or few specimens. Our multiple-trait data set supports a fundamental rethinking of the conventional tiger taxonomy paradigm, which will have profound implications for the management of in situ and ex situ tiger populations and boost conservation efforts by facilitating a pragmatic approach to tiger conservation management worldwide.


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Donnerstag, 06 Juni 2019 12:27

PATTERSON, B. D. & UPHAM, N. S. (2014)

A newly recognized family from the Horn of Africa, the Heterocephalidae (Rodentia: Ctenohystrica).

Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 172 (4): 942-963.


The Ctenohystrica is one of the three major lineages of rodents and contains diverse forms related to gundis, porcupines, and guinea pigs. Phylogenetic analyses of this group using mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences confirm the monophyly of the infraorder Hystricognathi and most of its recognized subclades, including both the Neotropical caviomorphs and the African phiomorphs, which are recovered as sister groups. Molecular timetrees calibrated with 22 securely placed fossils indicate that hystricognath superfamilies originated in the Eocene and Oligocene and most families had appeared by the end of the Oligocene, ∼23 Mya. Divergences leading to hystricognath genera took place in the Miocene and Pliocene, with a single exception. The naked mole‐rat (Heterocephalus) diverged from other African mole‐rats (Bathyergidae) in the early Oligocene (∼31.2 Mya), when the four caviomorph superfamilies (Erethizonoidea and Cavioidea at 32.4 Mya, Chinchilloidea and Octodontoidea at 32.8 Mya) were first appearing in South America. The extended independent evolution of Heterocephalus suggested by this analysis prompted a closer examination of mole‐rat characters. Heterocephalus indeed shares many characters with bathyergids, befitting their joint membership in the parvorder Bathyergomorphi and superfamily Bathyergoidea as well as their shared exploitation of subterranean lifestyles. However, a diverse array of cranial, dental, postcranial, external, and ecological characters distinguishes Heterocephalus from other African mole‐rats. These differences equal or exceed those used to diagnose caviomorph families and justify recognizing the naked mole‐rat in its own family, Heterocephalidae Landry, 1957. This taxonomic arrangement poses questions for the inter‐relationships of fossil and extant mole‐rats and brings time equivalence to the ranks assigned to the major clades of hystricognaths. 


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Donnerstag, 06 Juni 2019 06:40

NEIDECK, E. (2017)

Das Tierporträt - Nacktmull.

Eliomys 2/2017: 32-33.


Der Nacktmull ist die einzige Art der Familie Nacktmulle (Heterocephalidae). Früher wurde er in die Familie der Sandgräner (Bathyergidae) eingruppiert. Heute wird er aber aufgrund seiner basalen Stellung in eine eigene Familie einegordnet (PATTERSON & UPHAN, 2014).


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Donnerstag, 06 Juni 2019 06:23

MATSCHEI, C. & BÄTHE, R. (2013)

Riesengraumull und Mashona-Graumull - zwei Sandgräberarten.

Mitt. BAG Kleinsäuger Heft 2/2012: 10-14.


Graumulle zählen zu den wenig bekannten Tierarten. Sie gehören zur Famile Sandgräber (Bathyergidae). Zur Zeit werden etwa 20 Arten unterschieden. So schwierig sich mitunter die genaue Artbestimmung gestaltet, so unkompliziert ist die Haltung der Graumulle. Im Artikel werden der Riesengraumull (Fukomys mechowi (PETERS, 1881)) und Mashona-Graumull (Fukomys darlingi (THOMAS, 1895) näher vorgestellt.


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© Peter Dollinger, Zoo Office Bern hyperworx