DAVAO CITY, Philippines – In the mountains of Eastern Mindanao, researchers have discovered two new species of soft-furred hedgehogs, known as gymnures, less than two months into 2023.
The discovery showed the importance of continued research on the Eastern Mindanao highlands as a likely center of Philippine mammalian diversity.
The new species were recognized based on a combination of mitochondrial genetic, qualitative, and quantitative morphological data, showed the research article, “A re-assessment of diversity among Philippine gymnures (Mammalia: Erinaceidae: Podogymnura) with a new species from Eastern Mindanao.”
Podogymnura intermedia was found in Mount Hamiguitan, Davao Oriental, and Mount Kampalili.in Pantukan town, Davao de Oro, while P. minima was discovered in Mount Kitanglad, Bukidnon.
“These results further increase the rich diversity of mammals on Mindanao, and underscore the importance of the eastern Mindanao highlands as a likely important but little-studied center of Philippine mammalian diversity,” the article reads in part.
P. intermedia has golden-brown fur and a pointed nose similar to that of a shrew. Its fur has golden streaks, which distinguishes it from P. truei and P. minima, whose dark fur has tiny golden sparkles, and P. aurospinola, which has long golden hair mixed into its pelage. Its size is intermediate compared to P. auroespinula, the largest member of the genus, and the other two species, P. truei and P. minima.
P. minima was formerly considered a subspecies of P. truei but has been proven to be a distinct and new species. It is the smallest species of Podogymnura.
Podogymnura, a Philippine endemic genus of gymnures (soft-furred hedgehogs), was previously known only from the highlands of Central Mindanao (P. truei truei and P. t. minima) and from the two small islands off the northeast tip of Mindanao (P. aureospinula). Four of its species are endemic to the Philippines.
Research article co-author Laurence Heanery emphasized the unique diversity of the Philippines.
“One of the highly distinct things about the Philippines is that every isolated mountain or little mountain range where we have done surveys is that each and every one has several species that occur nowhere else – not even on adjacent mountain ranges on the same island,” said Heanery, who is the Negaunee curator of Mammals at the Field Museum in Chicago.
The new species were discovered by Danilo S. Balete, Lawrence R. Heaney, Eric A. Rickart, Roselyn S. Quidlar, Dakota M. Rowsey, and Link E. Olson.
The other three newly discovered species are the snail-eating snake (Sibon irmeindicaeprioa) in Colombia and Panama, the stream tree-frog (Hyloscyrtus tolkieni) in Ecuador, and the bent-toed gecko (Cryptactylus sanctaemartae) in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. (originally posted on rappler.com)
Lucelle Bonzo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.Mindanao, philippines