Twentieth century occurrence of the Long-Beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijnii in the Kimberley region of Australia

Kristofer M. Helgen, Roberto Portela Miguez, James L. Kohen, Lauren E. Helgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The monotreme genus Zaglossus, the largest egg-laying mammal, comprises several endangered taxa today known only from New Guinea. Zaglossus is considered to be extinct in Australia, where its apparent occurrence (in addition to the large echidna genus Megalibgwilia) is recorded by Pleistocene fossil remains, as well as from convincing representations in Aboriginal rock art from Arnhem Land (Northern Territory). Here we report on the existence and history of a well documented but previously overlooked museum specimen (skin and skull) of the Western Long-Beaked Echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii) collected by John T. Tunney at Mount Anderson in the West Kimberley region of northern Western Australia in 1901, now deposited in the Natural History Museum, London. Possible accounts from living memory of Zaglossus are provided by Aboriginal inhabitants from Kununurra in the East Kimberley. We conclude that, like Tachyglossus, Zaglossus is part of the modern fauna of the Kimberley region of Western Australia, where it apparently survived as a rare element into the twentieth century, and may still survive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-132
Number of pages30
JournalZooKeys
Volume255
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Extinction
  • Kimberley
  • Monotreme
  • Pleistocene survival
  • Rock art
  • Zaglossus

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