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GENUS Eospalax

Author:G. M. Allen, 1938.
Citation:Mammals of China and Mongolia, Nat. Hist. Central Asia, 2(pt. 1): vii.
Type Species:Siphneus fontanieri Milne-Edwards, 1867.

Extant and extinct species recorded only from China. Phylogenetic relationships reviewed by Lawrence (1991, as Myospalax; see above discussion) and Zheng (1994), both of whom brought together fontanieri, rothschildi, and smithi in a cluster defined by a suite of derived morphological features (convex occipital shield, long incisive foramina bisected by premaxillary-maxillary suture, carotid canal at basioccipital-basisphenoid suture, configuration of pterygoid fossa, hypsodent and rootless molars). All three have always been recognized as species, usually grouped at the species-group or subgeneric level (G. M. Allen, 1940; Corbet, 1978c; Kuzhyakin, 1965; Leroy, 1940). The three were carefully described by G. M. Allen (1940), who also provided distributional and habitat information.

Zheng (1994) recognized Allosiphneus for the extinct species arvicolinus, which has rootless molars and belongs in this group, but the traits distinguishing this genus define only a different species to us. He also included an assemblage of rooted species sorted into the genera Prosiphneus, Myotalpavus, and Pliosiphneus. We do not appreciate the cladistic support for the latter two and include them in Prosiphneus. The distinguishing traits among them are not nearly of the same magnitude as those between Eospalax, Myospalax, and Mesosiphneus; Prosiphneus thus contains extinct species with rooted molars. Lawrence (1991:282) did not recognize this dichotomy: "Placing species that have not achieved complete rootless hypsodonty in the separate genus Prosiphneus is an artifical division of a monophyletic group." Her conclusion was influenced by study of fossil youngi, which at the time was included in Prosiphneus, and her analysis placed it in the same group as Myospalax, an arrangement also proposed by Zheng (1994). Lawrence otherwise did not have available any of the species placed in Prosiphneus by Zheng, and we cannot assess the generic validity from Zheng’s report because he offered no diagnosis or definition of it. Until phylogenetic relationships among the extinct species with rooted molars in Prosiphneus and those extant and extinct forms in Eospalax are illuminated, the two genera should be retained. If shown to be congeneric, Eospalax G. M. Allen (1939) would be replaced by Prosiphneus Tielhard de Chardin (1926).



SPECIES fontanierii

SPECIES rothschildi

SPECIES smithii


    Allosiphneus Kretzoi, 1961
    Zokor Ellerman, 1941

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