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SPECIES Acomys (Acomys) minous

Author:Bate, 1905.
Actual Date:1906
Citation:Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1905(2): 321.
Common Name:Crete Spiny Mouse
Type Locality:Greece, Crete Isl, Kanea.
Distribution:Endemic to Crete (Greece); see Bates (1994).
Status:IUCN Vulnerable.
Comments:Subgenus Acomys. Treated as a species by Dieterlen (1978a), Corbet and Hill (1991), Cheylan (1991), and Denys et al. (1994). Chromosomal banding pattern documented by Kunze et al. (1999b:228), who noted the close similarity between karyotypes of Egyptian A. cahirinus and A. minous, and speculated that "Acomys may have reached Crete by ship with humans," an assumption concordant "with the lack of fossil Acomys records in Crete" (see Dieterlen, 1978, and discussion and references in Barome et al. [2001a]). This hypothesis was challenged by Barome et al. (2001a) based on mtDNA cytochrome b sequences. Their sample of A. minous was composed of two lineages, one (group A) clustered with Egyptian A. cahirinus and A. nesiotes from Cyprus, the other (group B) formed a clade with the Turkish A. cilicicus. Cytochrome b sequences were closely similar among the four species, the maximum nucleotide divergence equivalent to intraspecific divergence found in other species of Acomys, and Barome et al. (2001a:44) concluded that minous, nesiotes, and cilicicus are very closely related to A. cahirinus, "and the low sequence divergence among them suggests that they could belong to the same species, an hypothesis that must be tested with cytogenetics, morphology, and hybridization." Acknowledging the lack of fossil Acomys from Crete and the current belief that it was inadvertently introduced to Crete by humans, Barome et al. noted that the cytochrome b diversity found in A. minous was more ancient than the time of human colonization with common ancestry of the sequences extending back to the middle Pleistocene (0.7 to 0.1 million years ago). The polymorphism does not represent diversification following a human introduction but was present in the population from which the Crete animals were derived. Whether the Crete population represents immigration from two distinct populations or a single variable one will have to be determined by surveying polymorphisms of Acomys from Egypt, Cyprus, and Turkey. Volobouev et al. (2002b:266) do not recognize the distinctness of A. minous relative to A. cahirinus, stating that the minor chromosomal difference between the two (Kunze et al., 1999b) "is not sufficient to cause reproductive isolation."
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