Comparative penile morphology of East African galagos of the genus Galagoides (family Galagidae): implications for taxonomy



Recent studies on the comparative penile morphology of galagos have revealed complex patterns that vary among both genera and species, and help with species identification. So far the penile morphologies of 14 galago species have been described and an identification key has been proposed. The present study extends and revises previous work. Wild Galagoides cocos, G. granti, G. zanzibaricus and G. rondoensis from the Eastern Arc Mountains and coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya were live-trapped, and one species (G. orinus) was examined using a museum specimen. Penile morphology was photographed, traced, and described qualitatively. All of the mature males had penile spines. Spines were absent or indistinct in immature males of all of the species. The penile morphologies of G. cocos, G. granti, and G. zanzibaricus are similar in their overall distribution and type of spines, but differ in the shape of the glans penis. Both G. orinus and G. rondoensis have divergent penile morphologies compared to all other galagos, and are probably phylogenetically distinct. The results support other recent morphological and behavioral studies that consider these five galagos to be distinct species. The evolution of the baculum and spines is thought to be linked to sexual selection in multimale mating systems, but the mechanisms involved are not entirely understood. Adult male G. rondoensis appear to display the penile spines by exposing the distal section of the penis. Am. J. Primatol. 68:16–26, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.