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B R E V I O R A -- 



us ISSN 0006-9698 .. ,\^^y. 

= UNIVLF 

Cambridge, Mass. 10 April 2002 Number 510 

RECENTLY EXTINCT MAMMALS IN THE MUSEUM 
OF COMPARATIVE ZOOLOGY 

Kristofer M. Helgen' and Terri L. McFadden' 



Mammalian extinctions in the modern era are a cause of pro- 
found environmental and scientific concern. Efforts to document 
the magnitude of mammalian extinctions within the last 500 years 
have increased in recent years (e.g.. Cole et al., 1994; MacPhee 
and Marx, 1997; Williams and Nowak, 1993); the most rigorous 
of these can be found in MacPhee and Flemming (1999). These 
studies have resolved much confusion regarding the enigmatic 
taxonomic status of many supposedly extinct mammals, and pro- 
duced useful discussions concerning the correct dating of extinc- 
tion for others. 

The present report provides a list (Table 1 ) of specimens of 
recently extinct mammals housed in the Museum of Comparative 
Zoology (MCZ). Reporting museum specimens of recently ex- 
tinct taxa (such as Feiler, 1999) is especially appropriate because 
comparative material for these taxa is by definition limited, and 
in many cases, extremely rare in collections (Flannery and Schou- 
ten, 2001). 

Compilations of modern-era extinctions usually define the 
modern era to comprise the last 500 years. Many mammal spe- 
cies, especially species restricted to islands, are thought to have 
become extinct early within this period, and are known only by 



' Mammal Department, Museum of Comparative Zoology. Harvard University, 26 
Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02 1 38. USA. 



B R E V I O R A -' 



\Uu 



iVl niseiuLm oi v^omripairafiTe Z^ooiogy 





us ISSN 0006-9698 


: ] 


Cambridge, Mass. 


10 April 2002 


Number 510 



HAn 

JNIV 



RECENTLY EXTINCT MAMMALS IN THE MUSEUM 
OF COMPARATIVE ZOOLOGY 

Kristofer M. Helgen' and Terri L. McFadden' 



Mammalian extinctions in the modern era are a cause of pro- 
found environmental and scientific concern. Efforts to document 
the magnitude of mammalian extinctions within the last 500 years 
have increased in recent years (e.g.. Cole et ciL, 1994; MacPhee 
and Marx, 1997; Williams and Nowak, 1993); the most rigorous 
of these can be found in MacPhee and Flemming (1999). These 
studies have resolved much confusion regarding the enigmatic 
taxonomic status of many supposedly extinct mammals, and pro- 
duced useful discussions concerning the coiTcct dating of extinc- 
tion for others. 

The present report provides a list (Table 1) of specimens of 
recently extinct mammals housed in the Museum of Comparative 
Zoology (MCZ). Reporting museum specimens of recently ex- 
tinct taxa (such as Feiler, 1999) is especially appropriate because 
comparative material for these taxa is by definition limited, and 
in many cases, extremely rare in collections (Flannery and Schou- 
ten, 2001). 

Compilations of modern-era extinctions usually define the 
modern era to comprise the last 500 years. Many mammal spe- 
cies, especially species restricted to islands, are thought to have 
become extinct early within this period, and are known only by 



' Mammal Department, Museum of Comparative Zoology. Harvard University, 26 
Oxford Street. Cambridge, Massachusetts 02 1 38, USA. 



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10 BREVIORA No. 510 

subfossil material. The Vertebrate Paleontology Department of 
the MCZ houses extensive collections of fragmentary subfossil 
material of a number of Caribbean endemic mammals, including 
Nesophontes micrus, Nesophontes hypomicrus, Nesophontes zam- 
icrus, Solenodon marcanoi, Brotomys voratus, Boromys ojfella, 
Boromys torrei, Isolobodon portoricensis, Geocapromys colum- 
bianus, Geocapromys ingrahami abaconis, and Geocapromys in- 
grahami irrectus. This material, reported by Allen (1911, 1917a, b, 
1918, 1937), Koopman and Ruibal (1955), Lawrence (1934), and 
Patterson (1962), is not discussed here. Instead, only mammal taxa 
known to have become extinct within the last 250 years are dis- 
cussed. 

The MCZ contains specimens of seven mammal species of 
valid systematic status that are considered to have become extinct 
after 1750. These are the Lesser bilby (Macrotis leucura). Desert 
rat-kangaroo (Calopiymnus campestris). Eastern hare wallaby 
{Lagorchestes leporides), Thylacine or Tasmanian wolf (Thyla- 
cinus cynocephalus), Steller's sea cow {Hydrodamalis gigas), Ca- 
ribbean monk seal {Monachus tropica I is), and Little Swan Island 
hutia {Geocapromys thoracatus). Species often included in recent 
extinction lists but considered to be disqualified taxa by MacPhee 
and Flemming (1999:352-354) — disqualified either because they 
have been shown not to have become extinct within this period 
or because their systematic status is considered invalid — are ex- 
cluded from consideration in this list. Thus, although many of 
these disqualified taxa, such as Potorous gilbertii, Procyon glov- 
eralleni, Tolypeutes tricinctus, and Census schomburgki, are rep- 
resented in the collections of the MCZ, we do not include them 
here. 

Additionally, a number of subspecific mammalian taxa that 
have recently become extinct are represented by specimens in the 
MCZ. Although mammalian extinction at the subspecific level 
has received little attention, several mammal subspecies, widely 
recognized as taxonomically valid by recent authors, and un- 
doubtedly extinct, are included in this list. These are the New- 
foundland wolf {Canis lupus beothucus) and Great Plains wolf 
(C /. nubilus\ see Mech, 1974:1); California grizzly bear, (Ursus 
arctos californicus\ see Hall, 1984:3); Sea mink {Mustela vison 



2002 RECENTLY EXTINCT MAMMALS 11 

mcicrodom see Manville, 1966:10); Sundaic tiger {Pantherci tigris 
sondaica) and Caspian tiger {P. t. virgata; see Kitchener, 1999); 
Barbary lion {Pantherci leo leo; see Nowak, 1999:834); Syrian 
ass {Equus hemionus hemippus; see Groves, 1974:162); Northern 
black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis brucii; see Groves, 1967:274; 
Kingdon, 1997:319); Cape warthog {Phacochoerus aethiopicus 
ciethiopiciis\ see Kingdon, 1997:334); Badlands bighorn sheep 
{Ovis canadensis auduboni\ see Nowak, 1999:1237); and Santa 
Cruz rice rat, {Nesoryzomys indefessus indefessus; see Musser and 
Carleton, 1993:714). 

Although we hope that this account will not become immedi- 
ately outdated as other mammals join the ranks of these extinct 
forms, the current conversion rate of natural areas makes future 
losses inevitable. Continuing systematic study of species diversity 
in mammals and all other taxonomic groups serves to highlight 
the tragedy of modern era extinctions via human impact, and 
should continue to remind all that the biological specimens pre- 
served in museums throughout the world should ideally serve as 
a testament to, and not as a memorial for, the remarkable biodi- 
versity of the natural world. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

We thank M. Rutzmoser, A. Biewener, C. Schaff, D. Wilson, 
and A. Gardner for their assistance. 

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. 1917a. New fossil mammals from Cuba. Bulletin of the Museum of 

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. 1917b. An extinct Cuban Capromys. Proceedings of the New England 

Zoological Club, 6: 53-56. 

. 1918. Fossil mammals from Cuba. Bulletin of the Museum of Compar- 
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. 1937. Geocapromys remains from Exuma Island. Journal of Mammalogy. 

18: 369-370. 

Allen, G. M., and T. Barbour. 1937. The Newfoundland wolf. Journal of Mam- 
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Cole, F. R., D. M. Reeder. and D. E. Wilson. 1994. A synopsis of distribution 



12 BREVIORA No. 510 

patterns and the conservation of mammal species. Journal of Mammalogy, 
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Feiler. a. 1999. Ausgestorbene Saugetiere. Typusexamplare und bemerkenswerte 
Lokalserien von Saugetieren aus der Sammlung des Staatlichen Museums fiir 
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2002 RECENTLY EXTINCT MAMMALS 13 

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