Mammal Species of the World Logo



SPECIES Equus asinus

Author:Linnaeus, 1758.
Citation:Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1: 73.
Common Name:Ass
Type Locality:"Habitat in oriente" (= Middle East?).
Distribution:NE Sudan (now extinct), NE Ethiopia, and N Somalia; domesticated worldwide; feral or possibly wild in Oman, Hoggar (S Algeria), and Tibesti (N Chad); feral in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Socotra Isl (Yemen), Sri Lanka, Australia, USA (including Hawaiian Isls), Galapagos Isls, Chagos Isls, and probably other oceanic islands.
Status:CITES Appendix I as E. africanus; U.S. ESA Endangered as E. asinus; IUCN Critically Endangered as E. africanus africanus and E. a. somalicus.
Comments:Revised by Groves et al. (1966) who with Ansell (1974a:6) recommended use of africanus as specific name, not wishing to use the name asinus because it was based upon domestic populations. Revised also by Schlawe (1980b) who indicated that Asinus africanus Fitzinger was named in 1858, not 1857, and by Groves (1986), who noted that Asinus africanus Fitzinger is a nomen nudum. The apparent senior name for wild asses is then taeniopus (Heuglin, 1861) but Groves (1986) regarded this as a nomen dubium. Gentry et al. (1996) proposed that majority usage be confirmed by adoption of the first available specific name based on a wild population for the wild taxon, in this case deemed to be Equus africanus Heuglin and Fitzinger, 1866, though it has not been demonstrated that most authors have termed the wild ass E. africanus rather than E. asinus. They asked the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature to use its plenary power to rule that the name for the wild species is not invalid by virtue of being antedated by the name based on the domestic form. A ruling in favor of the proposal has now been made (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 2003). While it stipulates that africanus is not invalid, it does not explicitly specify which species-group name is to be assigned to the whole species by those who consider both domestic and wild populations to be conspecific (see Bock, 1997). Furthermore, the domestic ass may represent a subspecies E. asinus asinus, now extinct in the wild and not synonymous with E. a. africanus (Groves et al., 1966; Pocock, 1909a). Accordingly, africanus is here maintained as a subspecies of E. asinus. The Linnean names mulus and hinnus, treated as varieties of the ass, refer to mule and hinny respectively (horse-ass hybrids). There is no such name as hippagrus Schomber, 1963; this is merely the application in error to an ass of the name hippagrus C. H. Smith, 1841, based on a horse.



SUBSPECIES africanus

SUBSPECIES somalicus


  Bucknell Home Page   Biology Department Home Page


©Bucknell Univesity All Rights Reserved
Comments and questions to