October 2, 2023

Researchers Identify 14 New Shrew Species

Shrews belong to a notoriously varied mammalian family, Soricidae. One genus, Crocidura, contains more than 180 species. A group of scientists from the US, Indonesia, and Australia have now included to this insectivores ranks, releasing a paper last month in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History that details 14 brand-new Crocidura species on Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia. According to a Louisiana State University news release, this is the “biggest variety of new mammals described in a clinical paper given that 1931.” The group conducted a decade-long study that analyzed an overall of 1,368 shrews. Based upon the animals physical qualities and genomes, the group concluded there are 21 species of shrew endemic to Sulawesi, 14 of which were formerly unknown. The authors compose in their paper that the diversity of shrew types on Sulawesi is practically 3 times what has been observed on any other island in the world.Skulls of shrews belonging to Elongata subgroupJAKE ESSELSTYNAccording to the Associated Press, Louisiana State University biologist and research study lead Jake Esselstyn was at first interested in “concerns about how shrews connected with their environment, with each other, how regional communities were formed.” As detailed in the paper, he and his coworkers caught hundreds of shrews at differing altitudes on Sulawesis mountains and compared their mitochondrial DNA series and other hereditary aspects with those from specimens collected in the early 1900s, finding evidence of previously unidentified species.Esselstyn tells New Scientist that the special K-like shape of the island in addition to its mountainous surface may have caused seclusion of populations and therefore contributed to the high species diversity the group found in shrews, though this idea stays untested.Nathan S. Upham, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University who was not involved with the research study, informs the AP that the paper, which is more than one hundred pages long, is “extremely valuable for all present and future trainees of mammal biodiversity.” According to the AP, Esselstyn states that a next step would be to sequence genomes to respond to concerns about how these species of shrew developed. He informs New Scientist theres a possibility that still more shrew species live at altitudes higher than those where his team collected. Coauthor Heru Handika includes, “We hope that our findings can encourage more work and funding to study biodiversity on mountains.”