Zaglossus bartoni bartoni Thomas, 1907

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: 381-382

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Zaglossus bartoni bartoni Thomas, 1907


Zaglossus bartoni bartoni Thomas, 1907  

Holotype: BMNH, an old female skin and skull collected at an elevation of about 2,400 m on Mt Victoria, Wharton Range, Papua New Guinea.

Synonyms: Zaglossus bubuensis Laurie, 1952  

Diagnosis: A medium-sized subspecies, significantly larger (at 0.05) in all cranial dimensions measured than Z. b. smeenki   , and significantly larger (at 0.05) than Z. b. clunius   in BIMAST, RH and PAL. It is significantly smaller (at 0.05) than Z. b. diamondi   in CBL, BZW, RBR, PAL, B and J.

Specimens examined; 17 adult and 2 juvenile skulls, 12 skins.

Distribution: The Papua New Guinean central cordillera between the Efogi area (147 ° 42 ’ E) to around Wau (146 ° 44 ’ E) including the Wharton Range and the Wau- Bulolo area, at elevations between about 2,000 and 3,200 metres. A population, provisionally referred to this taxon, occurs in the lowlands of southern Chimbu Province, at about 600 metres elevation in the Haia area ( Fig. 1).

Description: This taxon is less variable in fur density and colour than Z. bruijnii.   Most of the specimens we have examined (e.g. AM M5993) have long, dense blackish fur which obscures the spines over the dorsum, although they are visible on the sides. Some specimens have dark brown rather than blackish fur, and one (AM M3212) has spines which are clearly visible all over the back. The spines are invariably white.

Specimens from the Haia area (600 metres elevation) of southern Chimbu Province are tentatively referred to this taxon as they could not be distinguished on the basis of available material. They appear to be somewhat less wellfurred than others, the spines being visible through the fur of the back. This population is poorly-known, a single photograph of an adult female (see Flannery 1995 a, p. 66) providing the only evidence for its external appearance.

Discussion: This taxon is well represented in world museum collections. Aspects of the biology of the Mount Tafa population have also been studied by Griffiths (1978). Most museum specimens are from the Wharton Range and the Wau area, where it occurs at altitudes above about 2,000 metres. In subalpine grassland, such as that in the Neon Basin, Mt Albert Edward at 3,200 metres elevation, where hunting pressure is low. it may be relatively common.

Laurie (1952) distinguished bubuensis   from bartoni   (with which it was supposedly sympatric), on the basis of its shorter, brown (rather than black) fur, light brown feet and less curved rostrum. All of these features vary within the sample of Z. b. bartoni   available to us, and the condition seen in bubuensis   falls within this variation.

No other mammal species has a distribution which overlaps precisely with that of Z. b. bartoni.   The New Guinean population of Nyctophilus timoriensis   however, coincides with it. The zone of potential contact between Z. b. bartoni   and Z. b. diamondi   is extensive, but it lies in an area of dense human population (the Eastern Highlands and Chimbu), where there are no records of living Zaglossus   . The westernmost records of bartoni   are from unusually low elevation, while all the eastern records of diamondi are from high elevations. It seems possible that these populations once replaced each other elevationally, but the middle elevation zone (where parapatry may have occurred) is now heavily populated and its forests grossly modified or cleared. There is no evidence of intergradation of these subspecies.