Zaglossus bruijnii ( Peters and Doria, 1876 )

T. F. Flannery & C. P. Groves, 1998, A revision of the genus Zaglossus (Monotremata, Tachyglossidae), with description of new species and subspecies, Mammalia 62 (3), pp. 367-396: 379-381

publication ID

http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/mamm.1998.62.3.367

publication LSID

lsid:zoobank.org:pub:2285F206-66A5-4DA9-9ADE-EF15961FB919

DOI

http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5630207

persistent identifier

http://treatment.plazi.org/id/03D60959-FFE0-FFE7-FE24-3F7BFE05AF35

treatment provided by

Plazi

scientific name

Zaglossus bruijnii ( Peters and Doria, 1876 )
status

 

Zaglossus bruijnii ( Peters and Doria, 1876)  

Holotype: GE 1623. Skull only, Arfak Mountains, collected by A.A. Bruijn. Synonyms: Bruynia triclactyla Du Bois, 1882  

Proechidna villosissima Du Bois, 1884  

Proechidna nigroaculeata Rothschild, 1892  

Acanthoglossus goodfellowi Thomas, 1907a  

Zaglossus bruijnii gularis Rothschild, 1922  

Zaglossus bruijnii pallidus Rothschild, 1922  

Diagnosis: A medium-sized species of Zaglossus   , differing from all other taxa in possessing three (rarely four) claws on the fore and hindfeet. It is sharply and significantly smaller (at 0.05) in CBL, BZW and PAL than the Z. bartoni diamondi   , which abuts it to the east, and differs significantly from other Z. bartoni   in some cranial dimensions (see Table 2 View TABLE 2 ). The orbitotemporal fossa is large, and the plate terminating it posteriorly is poorly visible in ventral view. The median palatal groove extends back to the posterior of the palate. The brain-case tends to be low-crowned. It further differs from the species based on sample 6 in the colour of its pelage and larger size (see below).

Specimens examined: 16 adult and 3 juvenile skulls, 19 skins.

Distribution: New Guinea west of the Paniai Lakes ( Fig. 1). Rothschild's (1913. 1922) records of specimens from Kaimana on the southern side of the Charles Louis Range is problematic. Rothschild himself doubted the veracity of the location, suggesting that the specimens might have come from Sorong. Further, the present day Kaimana is located on the western tip of the Vogelkop neck (3 ° 40 ’ S, 133 ° 45 ' E). far to the west of the Charles Louis Ranges (135 ° 30 ’ E). The easternmost limit of the species is still in doubt. There is no doubt, however, that Zaglossus   (probably this species) occurs as far east as the mountains fringing the western side of Etna Bay (134 ° 50 ' E) ( Flannery 1995 a). There are no undoubted records of Zaglossus   from the Weyland and Charles Louis Ranges, and it is possible that the species has been hunted to extinction there as well as in the region of the Paniai Lakes. It has broad elevational range, from near sea-level (on Salawati) to at least 2.250 m in the Arfak Mountains (c.g. AM M17891).

Description: Zaglossus bruijnii   is a medium sized species which is highly variable in colour and the density of its fur. Most individuals are black in overall fur colour, but some (possibly including the majority of specimens which have been kept in captivity) are dark brown. The holotype of pallidus is even lighter brown in colour. Short-beaked echidnas ( Tachyglossus aculeatus   ) can be very pale, with almost white individuals being reported: Zaglossus bruijnii   may be similarly variable. Many Z. bruijnii   have pale fur on the head and feet, which is variable in extent and intensity. In some, the face and feet can appear white.

Spine colour variesbetween almost entirely white (e.g. MCZ 12,414). black with a white tip (MCZ 7,389), or almost entirely black (the type of nigroaculeata   ). We could discern no geographic pattern to this variability. It should be noted, however, that black spines are entirely absent in other species of Zaglossus   .

The amount of fur present between the spines is also more variable in this species than in any other. This probably reflects the fact that its distribution can extend down to sea-level, whereas all other Zaglossus   are restricted to higher elevations. Specimens from lower elevation areas (e.g. the Fak Fak Peninsula and Salawati) have very little fur, while those from the higher peaks of the Arfaks can be so densely furred as to obscure the spines of the back. Again, similar variability in fur density is seen in T. aculeatus   , with individuals from cold regions being more densely furred.

Discussion: This is the type species of Zaglossus   . It is a variable species in pelage and, to some extent size, and it inhabits a broader elevational range than most other Zaglossus   , which, with the exception of Z. bartoni bartoni   and Z. b. smeenki   , restricted to elevations above about 1,300 metres.

Allen (1912) examined the characters used to distinguish the forms goodfellowi   , villosissima   , and nigroaculeata   , and concluded that none provided a reliable means to diagnose these from bruijnii   . The presence of spines on its belly and the sparseness of its fur were the characteristics used by Thomas (1907) to distinguish his new form goodfellowi   . Allen showed, however, that Thomas’ assertion that individuals referable to the taxon bruijnii   lacked spines on the belly was incorrect. The variability in fur density observed in this study further indicates that the forms goodfellowi   and villosissima   are not distinguishable from bruijnii   . The colour of the spines, their density, and the robustness of the claws (all used to distinguish nigroaculeata   ) are likewise too variable to be reliable.

Rothschild (1922) distinguished the subspecies pallidus as having a white head and pale pelage. Individuals of Z. bruijnii   are not infrequently seen with both of these characteristics, as are a few Z. bartoni   . He also distinguished the form gularis on the basis that it lacked spines on the undersurface (a feature variably present in bruijnii   ), its large claws, and the concavity of the skull. These last two features vary with age.

The area from the Vogelkop east to Paniai Lakes has a number of endemic mammals whose distributions are similar to those of Zaglossus bruijnii   . These include Dendrolagus ursinus   , Microperoryctes murinus   , Pseudochirus schlegeli   and Pseudochirops coronatus   . Together these taxa represent an old. endemic and largely montane element in far west New Guinea.

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum

Chordata

Class

Mammalia

Order

Monotremata

Family

Tachyglossidae

Genus

Zaglossus

Loc

Zaglossus bruijnii ( Peters and Doria, 1876 )

T. F. Flannery & C. P. Groves 1998
1998
Loc

Zaglossus bruijnii gularis

Rothschild 1922
1922
Loc

bruijnii gularis

Rothschild 1922
1922
Loc

Zaglossus bruijnii pallidus

Rothschild 1922
1922
Loc

bruijnii pallidus

Rothschild 1922
1922
Loc

Acanthoglossus goodfellowi

Thomas 1907
1907
Loc

goodfellowi

Thomas 1907
1907
Loc

Proechidna nigroaculeata

Rothschild 1892
1892
Loc

nigroaculeata

Rothschild 1892
1892
Loc

Proechidna villosissima

Du Bois 1884
1884
Loc

villosissima

Du Bois 1884
1884