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LSU researchers identify 14 new species of shrews in Sulawesi | Environment

By on December 27, 2021 0


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Researchers in Louisiana have identified 14 new species of shrews on an island in Indonesia where seven of the genus were previously known.

There were so many and some looked so alike that after a while Louisiana State University biologist Jake Esselstyn and his colleagues began to search for Latin words meaning “ordinary.”

“Otherwise, I don’t know what we would have called them,” said Esselstyn, who also named the seventh known species of pointed-nosed insectivorous mammals on the island of Sulawesi.

This is why shrews whose species names mean such things as “hairy tailed” and “long” were joined by “Crocidura mediocris”, “C. normalis”, “C. ordinaria” and “C. solita ”- the last of those meaning“ usual ”.

Ron Usner was sitting at his computer a few years ago when he heard a noise outside his window.

The 101-page article will be “of great value to all current and future students of mammalian biodiversity,” said Nathan S. Upham, assistant research professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and lead creator from the American Society of Mammalogists online Mammal. Diversity database.

He was not involved in the study, which was published Dec. 15 in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History and also involved researchers from the Indonesian Institute of Science, Victoria Museums in Australia and the ‘University of California.

It’s been 90 years since these many new species were identified in a single article, Esselstyn said. George Henry Hamilton Tate’s 1931 article identified 26 possible new species of marsupials from South America, but 12 were later found not to be separate species for a total of 14 new species, he said. declared.

Esselstyn has led a decade of trips to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to collect the animals, which are parents of hedgehogs and moles. All weighed less than an AA battery, ranging from about 3 grams – just over a tenth of an ounce, or about the weight of a ping pong ball – to about 24 grams (0.85 ounces) . The larger species had bodies averaging 95 millimeters, or about 3.7 inches long.

Initially, he hoped to clarify how the six species then known in the genus Crocidura had developed. “I was interested in questions of how shrews interacted with their environment, with each other, how local communities formed,” he said.

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But he soon realized that the cash had been seriously underestimated.

“It was overwhelming because for the first few years we couldn’t figure out how much cash there was,” he said.

Five had been identified in 1921 and a sixth in 1995. The Esselstyn team identified the seventh species, the hairy-tailed shrew, in 2019.

For this article, they examined 1,368 shrews, over 90% of which were collected by the Esselstyn group, which trapped the animals at a dozen mountain sites and two in the lowlands of Sulawesi. .

Menari, the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan at Audubon Zoo who was pregnant with twins, has given birth, the zoo said on Monday.

Rather, the island is shaped like a lowercase letter k with the top of the stem bent sharply to the east.

This odd shape has contributed to the diversity of species, Esselstyn said. “There are cohesive boundaries between species… whether you look at frogs, macaques, or mice. It suggests some kind of shared environmental mechanisms.”

The researchers found at least seven of these areas – roughly, the central mass of the island, the three “legs” of the k, and three areas on the long, curved neck.

Genetic analysis can tell how long or recently similar species have separated and whether they have been in regular contact with each other since then, Esselstyn said.

“It’s a difficult problem. But I think we can do it now that genome sequencing is relatively inexpensive,” he said. “A few years ago we couldn’t have done it, but it’s relatively doable now.”

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