Afrotropical forest-dwelling mongooses (Mammalia: Herpestidae: Crossarchus) investigated by craniometry and mitochondrial DNA

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Abstract

On the basis of craniometry, the last systematic revision of cusimanses recognized four species distributed from Guinea (Conakry) to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Here, we (re)investigated cusimanses including new specimens collected in Benin, in eastern Cameroon (near the Dja River) and in Central African Republic (CAR) where cusimanses were so far presumed to be absent or had been barely sampled. Using craniometry and two mitochondrial DNA fragments (16S rDNA and cytochrome b), we were able to classify most investigated specimens according to the current taxonomy (viz. Crossarchus obscurus, C. platycephalus, C. alexandri and C. ansorgei). Interestingly, all the specimens from CAR clustered unambiguously with Crossarchus alexandri in the DNA-based analyses but exhibited skull dimensions that were distinct from the four recognized species. Our craniometric and mitochondrial DNA analyses offered two valuable complementary viewpoints to characterize cusimanses but were insufficient to provide a firm taxonomic conclusion about the specimens from CAR. Phylogenetic analyses based on mitochondrial DNA suggested that the two sympatric species living on the left bank of the Congo River were sister-species.

Ancillary