Myosorex preussi Matschie, 1893, Matschie, 1893

Turni, Hendrik, Hutterer, Rainer & Asher, Robert, 2007, Type specimens of “ insectivoran ” mammals at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Zootaxa 1470, pp. 1-33: 27

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.273750

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Myosorex preussi Matschie, 1893


Myosorex preussi Matschie, 1893  

Matschie, P. (1893) Ü ber einige afrikanische Sãugethiere. Sitzungsberichte der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin: 177 [175–178].

Valid name: Sylvisorex morio (Gray, 1862)  

Syntypes: ZMB 6990, female, skull (skin of Sorex araneus   , original skin presumably lost, see below); ZMB 6991, female, skin and skull; ZMB 6992, skin (skull of Crocidura attila   , see below); all collected by Preuss from Buea, Cameroon, elevation 950 m.

Comments: Matschie based his original description on “three females from Buea, Cameroon, 950 m elevation”. However, this small series actually consists of three different genera and species. Upon inspection of the type series, Heim de Balsac & Lamotte (1956) concluded that some mismatching must have occurred at the Berlin Museum during Matschie s tenure. They identified the skin ZMB 6990 as the “ Type ” (marked with an asterisk in the catalogue) of “ Myosorex preussi   ”, but the associated skull as belonging to Sylvisorex morio   . The remaining specimens were listed as “Cotype A” (skin and skull of Sylvisorex morio   ) and “Cotype B” (skin of S. morio   , skull of Crocidura attila   ). In a subsequent publication, Heim de Balsac (1968 b) figured the skin of ZMB 6990 as the type and only representative of what he believed to be Myosorex preussi   . It must be mentioned that this skin closely resembled skins of Myosorex   proper from Cameroon described for the first time in that report. However, Hutterer (1993) identified the same skin as belonging to European Sorex araneus   , while he found the other determinations to be correct. In fact, the colour of the skin reminded him of similar specimens from Brandenburg near Berlin. By declaring the skin of Sylvisorex preussi   as the “ Type ” in 1956 (if equivalent to a lectotype designation), Heim de Balsac & Lamotte (1956) would have made the taxon a junior synonym of Sorex araneus   , as followed by Hutterer (1993, 2005). It is impossible to know when the present mismatching of specimens occurred. Some details of Matschie s description (page 177, “ Einem Exemplar fehlt dieser Zahn”) suggest that the skull of Crocidura attila   was already mismatched with the skin of Sylvisorex morio   of ZMB 6992 when Matschie had the series on his desk. The Sorex araneus   skin of ZMB 6990 deviates strongly from the other two skins in the series (see Fig. 7 View FIGURE 7 ) and we assume that Matschie would have noticed the difference. It may have been associated with the wrong skull during the 50 years that passed between Matschie’s description and Heim de Balsac’s visit of the Berlin Museum in the 1950 s. If so, then the selection of this skin by Heim de Balsac & Lamotte (1956) was invalid. Given that the other specimens of the type series represent species like Sylvisorex morio   and Crocidura attila   that do occur at Buea, Mt Cameroon (Eisentraut 1963), and given that ZMB 6991 is the only remaining specimen with correctly associated skin and skull, we select ZMB 6991 as the lectotype of Myosorex preussi Matschie, 1893   . The taxon therefore becomes a synonym of Sylvisorex morio (Gray, 1862)   .


Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Zoological Collections)