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Keywords:

  • anatomy;
  • digit;
  • Insectivora;
  • manus;
  • ray;
  • skeleton;
  • small-eared shrew;
  • Soricinae;
  • Soricomorpha

Small-eared shrews (Mammalia, Soricidae) of the New World genus Cryptotis are distributed from eastern North America to the northern Andes of South America. One well-defined clade in this genus is the Central American Cryptotis mexicana group, whose members are set off from other species in the genus by their variably broader fore feet and more elongate and broadened fore claws. Two species in the C. mexicana group, Cryptotis goodwini Jackson and Cryptotis griseoventris Jackson, inhabit highlands in Guatemala and southern Mexico and are presumed to be sister species whose primary distinguishing feature is the larger body size of C. goodwini. To better characterize these species and confirm the identification of recently-collected specimens, we obtained digital X-ray images of the manus from large series of dried skins of both species. Measurements of the metacarpals and phalanges successfully separated most specimens of C. goodwini and C. griseoventris. These measurements also show that the fore feet of C. griseoventris from Chiapas, Mexico, are morphologically distinct from those of members of the species inhabiting Guatemala. Univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses indicate that fore foot characters are more conservative within species of the C. mexicana group than are cranio-mandibular characters. Patterns of evolution of fore foot characters that superficially appear to be linear gradations are actually more complex, illustrating individual evolutionary trajectories. No claim to original US government works. Journal compilation © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 99, 118–134.