Myoictis leucura, Woolley, 2005

Woolley, P. A., 2005, Revision of the Three-striped Dasyures, Genus Myoictis (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae), of New Guinea, With Description of a New Species, Records of the Australian Museum 57 (3), pp. 321-340 : 334-335

publication ID 10.3853/j.0067-1975.57.2005.1450

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scientific name

Myoictis leucura


Myoictis leucura n.sp.

Type material. HOLOTYPE AM 17122 . Skin and skull of adult male. Collected in 1985 by K. Aplin at Agofia, Mt Sisa (Haliago), Papua New Guinea, 06°17'S 142°45'E, 650 m. The tip of tail has been damaged in preparation of the skin (white portion reduced in length from 9 mm, when the specimen was first examined in spirit, to 5 mm on the prepared skin) GoogleMaps . PARATYPE AM 17091 , adult female in alcohol, skull extracted, collected in 1985 by K. Aplin at Namosado, Mt Sisa (Haliago), 06°15'S 142°47'E, 750–1000 m GoogleMaps .

Distribution. Southern side of the central mountain ranges in Papua New Guinea from Mt Bosavi in the west to Mt Victoria/Vanapa R. in the east. Altitude records range from 650 to 1600 m.

Diagnosis. Myoictis leucura differs from other species of Myoictis in having a white-tipped tail with long hairs on the top and sides of the tail, the hairs decreasing in length towards the tip.

Description. The external appearance of the holotype is similar to the specimen shown in Fig. 3c View Fig except that the portion of the tail that is white is shorter. The general coat colour is a dark reddish brown above, with brighter, reddish hairs between the black dorsal stripes, and lighter below. The dorsal stripes extend from behind the ears to the rump, and the median stripe extends forward on the head. Red auricular patches are absent. The ears and feet are dark. The first interdigital and thenar footpads are generally not fused. Body dimensions can be found in Table 2. The posterior palatal foramina are large, and P 3 is single rooted. Females have four nipples.

Comparison with other species. Differences between Myoictis leucura and other species are summarized in Table 2. Myoictis leucura can be distinguished from M. wallacei , M. wavicus and M. melas by the form of the tail. Myoictis leucura is larger than M. wavicus but similar in size to M. wallacei and M. melas with respect to mass, head-body length, foot length, basicranial length and length of the lower molar tooth row. The females of M. leucura (and M. wavicus ) differ from M. wallacei and M. melas in having four rather than six nipples. Myoictis leucura can be distinguished from M. melas by the larger size of the posterior palatal foramina and by the presence of the third lower premolar tooth. Myoictis leucura can be distinguished from both M. wallacei and M. melas by the upper premolar tooth row gradient, and from M. wallacei in having a single rooted, as opposed to a double rooted, lower third premolar tooth. Differences in coat colour between the species are described earlier.


Observed differences in coat colour, which led to the present study, are useful for recognition of three species, M. wallacei , M. leucura , and M. wavicus , but not the fourth, M. melas . There is little variation in colour in the specimens assigned to each of the first three species but the specimens assigned to melas show a variety of coat colours. In comparison with melas , the other three species ( wallacei , leucura and wavicus ) have more restricted ranges. Collection of new material and further study of specimens from within the large geographic range of melas may reveal the existence of other forms within this species.

The four species recognized show no overlap in range but more intensive collecting may alter this situation. The differences “in the hand” between the four, together with the experience of the author in the captive breeding of many species of dasyurid marsupials, suggest that interbreeding would not occur even if the ranges were found to overlap.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. The assistance provided by all the keepers of the Museum collections examined in the course of this study, and for loans of specimens, is gratefully acknowledged. Financial assistance was provided by the Australian Research Grants Scheme (Grant D18315743). Ken Aplin encouraged me to prepare this work for publication.Ann Datta and Susan Snell (British Museum, Natural History) are thanked for assistance with archival material; Peter Dwyer for access to unpublished information; Seamus Ward, Jennifer Cheney and Pamela Conder for translation of foreign language papers; Trevor Phillips for preparation of the distribution map, photographs of tails and some skulls; Anthony Hutchison for preparation of X-ray images; Gary Poore (Museum of Victoria) for identification of the shrimps; David Walsh for photographing some skulls, the live animals and Museum skins; James Menzies for provision of photographs of specimen no. 96; Steve Donnellan for the photograph of specimen no. 22, and Soula Vouyoucalos (Western Australian Museum) for photographs of the skull of specimen no. 131. David Ride kindly provided advice on the rules of The Code of Zoological Nomenclature. James Menzies and Ken Aplin provided constructive criticism of an earlier version of the manuscript.