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Molecular analysis reveals a new species of white toothed shrew

Date:
July 2, 2013
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
Judging solely by the looks proves to be a wrong practice in biology too. A recent study of the white toothed shrew fauna of Vietnam reveals the importance of molecular analysis for the correct recognition of species. With the help of modern technologies, scientists describe an exciting and long-overlooked new species of white toothed shrew, representing a rare new addition to the group of the mammals.

This image shows the new white-toothed shrew species Crocidura sapaensis.
Credit: Alexei V. ABRAMOV, Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences

The white toothed shrew genus Crocidura is known as the largest mammal genus, with more than 180 species distributed around the world. A recent genetic analysis of the white toothed shrew fauna of Vietnam revealed the misinterpretations of previous morphological studies of the species, including the description of a new species of these very small mammals.

The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Describing new mammal species is an unusual event nowadays when mammal fauna has been by and large already thoroughly studied by zoologists during the previous centuries. Molecular analysis, however, presents an additional tool for the complex cases of morphological analysis, thus helping scientists to uncover previous mistakes, and even to find previously overlooked separate species.

The new species Crocidura sapaensis is a dark-grey and relatively small white toothed shrew, named after the Sa Pa District in Vietnam, where it was collected. During the study, the animals were found dwelling in a variety of the beautiful habitats in the vicinity of Tram Ton Station of Hoang Lien National Park, including mixed evergreen forest, banks of small streams and open grassy glades.

Previously confused with another species featured in this study (C. wuchihensis), the new species remained long unrecognized due to the great extent of morphological resemblance between the two. Judging solely by the looks, however, proved to be insufficient for the accurate recognition of species, with molecular analysis now offering scientists an opportunity to look under the surface.

"Our study concerns three species of Crocidura occurring in Vietnam, namely C. attenuata, C. tanakae and C. wuchihensis, and we came across an undescribed fourth species revealed by molecular analysis. While the molecular studies of Vietnamese material confirmed some of the results of the contemporaneous morphological studies, a number of anomalies were equally revealed, indicating the presence of several morphologically similar but molecularly distinct taxa.," explains Paulina Jenkins, a zoologist at London's Natural History Museum, about the horizons of the molecular analysis.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paula Jenkins, Alexei Abramov, Аnna Bannikova, Viatcheslav Rozhnov. Bones and genes: resolution problems in three Vietnamese species of Crocidura(Mammalia, Soricomorpha, Soricidae) and the description ofanadditional new species. ZooKeys, 2013; 313: 61 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.313.4823

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Molecular analysis reveals a new species of white toothed shrew." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130702123359.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2013, July 2). Molecular analysis reveals a new species of white toothed shrew. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130702123359.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Molecular analysis reveals a new species of white toothed shrew." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130702123359.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

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