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SPECIES Conilurus penicillatus

Author:Gould, 1842.
Citation:Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1842: 12.
Common Name:Brush-tailed Conilurus
Type Locality:Australia, Northern Territory, Port Essington, sea shore; see Mahoney and Richardson (1988:155).
Distribution:Australia; northern coastal area of Northern Territory and adjacent islands (Melville Isl, Bathurst Isl, Groote Eylandt, Sir Edward Pellew Group, and Wellesley Isl, and the extreme NE Western Australia (Kemper, 1995a:553; Watts and Aslin, 1981:133); SC Papua New Guinea in Morehead region (Flannery, 1995a; Waithman, 1979).
Status:IUCN – Lower Risk (lc).

Analyses of external morphology of glans penis and spermatozoal structure provided by Breed (1984), Breed and Sarafis (1978), and Morrissey and Breed (1982). Kemper and Schmitt (1992) reported multivariate study of external and cranial morphology among samples from N Australian and SC New Guinea in the context of assessing geographic variation and zoogeography; populations on Mellville and Bathurst Isls and SC New Guinea are morphometrically the most distinct compared with mainland Australian populations. Studies of chromosomal features (Baverstock et al., 1977c, 1983b), electrophoretic data (Baverstock et al., 1981), phallic morphology (Lidicker and Brylski, 1987), and dental traits (Misonne, 1969) supported the hypothesis that C. penicillatus is phylogenetically closely related to Mesembriomys gouldi, and microcomplement fixation data placed it in the same clade close to species of Leporillus and Mesembriomys (Watts et al., 1992; but see generic comments). Conilurus penicillatus is one of the few Old Endemic Australian murines that also occurs in the Trans-Fly region of SC New Guinea from where it is still represented by only two specimens (Flannery, 1995ba:258), and is one of 17 Australian mammalian species that are found only in that part of the island (Norris and Musser, 2001).

A morphologically distinctive penicillatus sized form of Conilurus is present in Recent cave deposits in the Christmas Creek area, inland of Townsville, N Queensland (K. Aplin, in litt., 2004). This form differs from both typical penicillatus and randi; further comparisons are needed with hemileucurus, the holotype of which was collected "at an unknown locality by the A. C. Gregory’s Expedition to North Australia in 1855-1856" (Mahoney and Richardson, 1988:156). This expedition visited localities not too far from Christmas Creek.




    hemileucurus (Gould, 1858)
    melanura (Gray, 1844)
    melibius Thomas, 1921
    randi Tate and Archbold, 1938

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