Halmaturus mastersii Krefft, 1871a

Parnaby, Harry E., Ingleby, Sandy & Divljan, Anja, 2017, Type Specimens of Non-fossil Mammals in the Australian Museum, Sydney, Records of the Australian Museum 69 (5), pp. 277-420 : 335-336

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https://doi.org/ 10.3853/j.2201-4349.69.2017.1653

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Halmaturus mastersii Krefft, 1871a


Halmaturus mastersii Krefft, 1871a

The Mammals of Australia, footnote to text following plate of Black-striped Wallaby (preface date October 28).

Common name. Swamp Wallaby.

Current name. Wallabia bicolor mastersii ( Krefft, 1871a) , following Jackson & Groves (2015). Status unresolved, variously recognized as a subspecies, or a synonym of W. b. bicolor ( Desmarest, 1804) and the taxonomic status of names assigned to W. bicolor need re-evaluation (Jackson & Groves, 2015).

? Syntypes. (2). PA.994 and PA.995, both skulls, each with dentaries wired to cranium, both with “ Halmaturus mastersi ” written in old ink on the dorsal surface in the same hand. Both specimens were originally entered by Palmer in the P Register in c. 1879 as “ Halmaturus mastersii Queensland ” but without donor, collector or any other data, and both are currently in the AM Collection .

Condition. PA.994 and PA.995: both crania and dentaries in good condition, all teeth intact.

Other potential syntypes. The following nine specimens were originally entered by Palmer in the Palmer Register in c. 1879 as “ Halmaturus mastersii Queensland” without donor, collector or any other data, only four of which, PA.992–995, are known to be currently in the AM Collection : PA.988, male, skin mount, not located in collection or sighted in recent inventories; PA.989, skin mount, destroyed by order of the Trustees in 1901; PA.990, (skin mount?), sent to Christchurch Museum , New Zealand, exchanged 23 May 1906; PA.991, skin mount, sent to St Petersburg , exchanged 1901; PA.992, one pouched young in alc., sighted in April 2015; PA.993, one pouched young in alc., sighted in April 2015. PA.993½ “skeleton”, re-registered as M. 11345 in 1980, not sighted in the collection in 2014 or in previous inventories (presumed stolen). An annotation “C.40.65” in old ink writing against Register entries of both PA.993 and PA.993½ refers to AM Archive document AMS7 Letters Received, C:40.65.05. This is a letter from George Masters to Krefft , dated May 1865 from Ipswich , in which Masters states that he has just come from Pine Mountains (Qld) and that he had obtained “another new wallaby”, of which he preserved a skeleton of an adult female with one pouched young, preserved in spirits .

Cranial measurements (mm). PA.994: GL, 124.80; ConL, 119.74; BasL, 113.43; NasL, 44.55* (nasal tips worn); NasB, 20.04; DIL, 23.05; APV, 6.40; PPV, 15.59; PAL, 73.85; UPM (alv.), 8.64; UMR (alv.), 30.80; ZB, 66.29; POC, 14.32; MB, 48.58* (left distal tip broken); DL (condyl.), 88.46; LPM (alv.), 6.85; LMR (alv.), 30.16. PA.995: GL, 129.26; ConL, 122.81; BasL, 117.37; NasL, 45.66* (nasal tips worn); NasB, 21.01; DIL, 23.78; APV, 8.28; PPV, 15.62; PAL, 75.10; UPM (alv.), 8.05; UMR (alv.), 30.53; ZB, 67.48; POC, 18.56; MB, 50.05; DL (condyl.), 95.64; LPM (alv.), 6.96; LMR (alv.), 29.25. [* = estimate].

Type locality. “ Occurs in some of the Queensland districts at the Burnett and other rivers” ( Krefft, 1871a: text page, opposite plate of The Black-striped Wallaby), Qld, Australia .

Comments. The first valid publication of the name mastersii was by Krefft (1871a), but his most detailed account of fur colour and dentition appeared in a newspaper account ( Krefft, 1872f), in which he expressed his belief that mastersii only occurred in the “Maryborough district” of Qld.

The specimens used by Krefft as the basis of this taxon have not been determined. Some or all of the above listed specimens probably qualify as syntypes but further archival work at the AM and in overseas institutions is needed to decide which might qualify. A broad interpretation of syntypes would include any material assigned to this taxon by Krefft, from the Burnett River district and other localities, collected by George Masters and possibly others, between about 1865 until the first valid publication of the name in Mammals of Australia in 1871.

The nine specimens listed above were originally entered as H. mastersii in the Palmer Register c. 1878 and were almost certainly specimens seen by Krefft and identified by him as mastersii . Given that Krefft was probably denied access to the collections following his forced eviction from the Museum premises in September 1874, we cannot discount the possibility that some of these specimens were added to the collection during the three remaining years of his curatorship following publication of Mammals of Australia. During that period no additional specimens were listed in the AM Annual reports or newspaper reports of donations to the AM, but those documents might not have included purchased specimens. Ramsay commenced duties soon after Krefft’s eviction and some of the Palmer specimens could have been added to the collection during the first 3–5 years of his curatorship before Palmer registered the mastersii material. Ramsay commenced the A Register in January 1875 but items were not assigned a registration number until A. 1 in June 1877. We have not found any entries in the A Register for mastersii , or any “ Halmaturus ualabatus ” from Qld from January 1875 to the end of 1879.

Specimens of Halmaturus mastersii sent by Krefft to other institutions are also likely to qualify as syntypes, including material sent to the BMNH and to Peters at ZMB, Berlin. The AM annual report for 1871 ( Krefft, 1872g) lists “4 wallabies ( Halmaturus ualabatus and Halmaturus mastersii )” sent to Dr Peters, Royal Museum , Berlin and the AM annual report for 1872 ( Krefft, 1873a) lists 3 skulls and 1 skeleton of “ Halmaturus mastersii ” sent to the BMNH.

The material used by Krefft to form the basis of his concept of mastersii would primarily have been obtained by the AM collector George Masters, but Krefft also had a number of correspondents who probably sent him material from Qld and it is possible that he visited the region himself. The earliest indication we have found that Krefft believed he had a new species was a letter from Masters to Krefft, dated 23 May 1865 from Ipswich, in which Masters refers to another specimen of the “new wallaby” (AM Archives AMS7 Letters Received, C:40.65.5).

Masters was first engaged as a collector on the AM staff in June 1864 but he also sold specimens to Krefft while employed by the AM. A detailed collecting itinerary of Masters has not been published, but he is known to have made three collecting trips to Qld during the seven years prior to publication of Mammals of Australia. His first trip was in 1865 to the Wide Bay region ( Whitley, 1971), which includes Burnett River and Maryborough districts as then recognized. The AM annual report for 1865 does not list any specimens that could be mastersii , and if any were collected it is possible that they were purchased from Masters and therefore not listed in the annual report. The collection dates of bird specimens listed by Longmore (1991) indicates that Masters collected again in the Wide Bay region during October and November 1867, but again, his collecting list (AM Archives AMS7 Letters Received, C:40.67.12) does not include any specimens that could have been mastersii . Masters collected during August and September 1870 in the Gayndah area, Burnett River ( Whitley, 1971), and it is likely that he obtained material listed by Krefft (1871a) during that period. We have not seen the original collecting list but the specimens obtained during 1870 listed in the AM annual report (Krefft & Thomson, 1871) probably include material referred to by Krefft (1871a).

A narrow interpretation of the syntype series would include only material collected by George Masters from “the Burnett River and other rivers”, Qld, the area specifically mentioned by Krefft (1871a) as the then known distribution of mastersii . Krefft (1871a) states that “Mr Masters has lately collected a fine series of these Wallabies from the Burnett River, Queensland ”. The AM annual report for 1870 lists material collected by Masters (locality not indicated) as “ Halmaturus mastersi —2 skeletons, 3 skins, 2 young in spirits, 1 skull” (Krefft & Thomson, 1871: 6). However, deciding which of the specimens currently held in the AM Collection or sent to overseas institutions were part of this initial series of H. mastersii is problematic and beyond the scope of this paper.

The two adult skulls PA.994 and PA.995 closely fit the dimensions and diagnostic criteria proposed by Finlayson (1931) to distinguish Qld populations of W. bicolor mastersii (as Macropus ualabatus ingrami Thomas & Dollman, 1909 ) from nominate southern Australian bicolor . These include the smaller size, e.g., basal skull length of 113 mm and 117 mm for PA.994 and PA.995 respectively; relatively greater posterior expansion of the nasal bones (ratio of nasal length/ breadth, 2.2, 2.1) and shorter diastema (ratio of diastema/ basal skull length, 5.2, 5.7).


Australian Museum


Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Zoological Collections)