Halmaturus crassipes Ramsay, 1876a

Parnaby, Harry & Gill, Anthony C., 2021, Mammal type specimens in the Macleay Collections, University of Sydney, Zootaxa 4975 (2), pp. 201-252 : 229-230

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Halmaturus crassipes Ramsay, 1876a


Halmaturus crassipes Ramsay, 1876a

Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. (ser. 1) 1 (2), 162. (July 1876).

Description read at the 29th May 1876 meeting of the LSNSW.

Current name. Agile Wallaby Notamacropus agilis papuanus ( Peters and Doria, 1875) , following Jackson & Groves (2015), who elevated Notamacropus , displacing the prior generic name Macropus .

Taxonomic status. Treated as a synonym of the Australian species N. agilis ( Gould, 1842b) by Thomas (1888) and adopted by most subsequent taxonomists. Although Thomas (1888) did not recognise subspecies within N. agilis , he noted differences between Australian and Papuan specimens. Recognised as a species, Macropus crassipes , by several taxonomists in the late 19th century, prior to its synonymy with N. agilis papuanus by Schwarz (1910). Although N. agilis papuanus is often recognised, the validity of all subspecies of N. agilis requires further study ( Eldridge & Coulson 2015).

Possible syntypes. M.386, subadult female, study skin ( Fig. 11 View FIGURE 11 ), skull possibly in skin. M.387, subadult female, study skin, skull possibly in skin. Both skins have been prepared in such a way that it is not possible to examine incisors, if they are present. Palpation of the head of both skins indicates that both have either a skull or a cast in situ. Each specimen has a Masters-style tag stating “ Macropus agilis, Gould , Port Moresby New Guinea ”, a species name that post-dates Thomas (1888). Both specimens were listed as skins and skulls when registered in the 1960s. White tags recently attached to each specimen speculate “Petterd & Broadbent? 1876?”. The collector or year of collection are not recorded for either, but they are evidently early specimens. Both specimens were confirmed as N. agilis in December 2016 by Dr Mark Eldridge.

Type locality. Port Moresby district ( Ramsay ), Central Province, Papua New Guinea. Parnaby et al. (2017) gave the type locality as “southern New Guinea” but Port Moresby is indicated in Ramsay’s account .

Comments. The location of Ramsay’s type material of this taxon remained undocumented for much of the 20th century prior to Calaby & Richardson (1988), who listed AM PA.1067 from “ southern New Guinea ” as a possible holotype. The English language taxonomic literature had overlooked Matschie (1917). His interpretation of Ramsay’s ambiguous account was that the type series consisted of a young female from Port Moresby collected by Broadbent and Petterd and an adult male collected by Goldie. We reached a similar conclusion, except that the type series consisted of at least three animals. The two female MAMU specimens M.386–87 are likely syntypes for reasons set out below, but is difficult to verify. Ramsay did not include measurements for females and neither skin has original collector’s tags (which have been replaced by Masters ). The limited associated data means that we cannot exclude the possibility that specimens of this commonly collected species in the Collection were obtained by Macleay after presentation of Ramsay’s paper at the May 1876 meeting of the LSNSW. However, we believe that circumstantial and contextual evidence supports their status as potential syntypes.

Although Ramsay did not state the number of specimens that he examined, his type series included at least two females. Under his description of the young female, Ramsay noted that “some specimens have a whitish mark across the thighs”. Ramsay described an adult male for which he gave external and skull measurements. In the concluding paragraphs of his paper, he acknowledged Andrew Goldie as the source of the adult male, which had been shipped to Ramsay while Goldie remained in New Guinea. It appears that only one specimen was received at the AM at the time. This is probably AM PA.1067, a flat skin now without a skull (see Parnaby et al. 2017) and is the specimen entered in May 1876 in the early AM Catalogue (the “ A Register ”) as “1 Halmaturus new sp. ” from Andrew Goldie. Ramsay did not specify the collecting locality(s) of Goldie’s material, other than commenting that Goldie was collecting in southern New Guinea.

Ramsay stated that several young animals collected by Petterd and Broadbent from the Port Moresby area were the first specimens to reach Sydney, and implied that those specimens were not in the AM Collection. The specimens were presumably amongst the material Petterd and Broadbent sold to Macleay in March 1876, as revealed in Macleay’s diary entry for 7th March 1876 ( Horning 1994). Although Ramsay did not mention Macleay in his paper, it therefore seems likely that the female specimens upon which he based his description were in Macleay’s Collection. We do not know whether Petterd and Broadbent sold material to Ramsay before their visit to Macleay.

Five skins of this species from New Guinea are listed in the MAMU 1890s Catalogue, some or all of which could be syntypes. These are a young “stuffed” male from Hall Sound; three female “skins” from Port Moresby (an adult, a half grown and a young), and an adult “stuffed” male, also from Port Moresby. Only two of these had been located and registered in the 1960s, along with several N. agilis skins without locality data.