Chinese researchers discover two new mammal species in SW China's Tibet

2023-10-10 Global Times Editor:Li Yan
Soriculus nivatus (Photo/Courtesy of the research team)

Soriculus nivatus (Photo/Courtesy of the research team)

Two new mammal species of Soriculus have been found in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Chinese researchers announced recently. They told the Global Times on Monday that the finding is meaningful to inspire more diversity research on small mammals in the region.

The research is being led by Chen Zhongzheng from Anhui Normal University and Jiang Xuelong from Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In order to gain a better understanding of the taxonomic classification and evolutionary relationships within the Soriculus, the research team conducted a comprehensive investigation in the Himalaya-Gaoligong Mountains region, which took approximately five years, according to the researchers.

We found one sample collected at the region with an altitude of 2,100 to 2,830 meters from Medog county, and the other one at an altitude of 2,560 to 4,200 meters from Nyingchi, in Tibet, were clearly different from other branches in morphology, so that they were described as new species: Soriculus medogensis and Soriculus nivatus, Chen from Anhui Normal University told the Global Times on Monday.

There was another sample which was different from other branches, which may be a new species, Chen said, adding that the researches will describe it as new species later when they collect more samples.

The genus Soriculus is currently recognized as monotypic, containing only one species, Soriculus nigrescens, which is distributed mainly in the Himalayas and the southern Hengduan Mountains, according to a study led by the research team published on Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society recently.

Medog county, known as the natural museum of vegetation types, has the distribution of tropical rainforests, with the lowest elevation and the best environment in the region. It is also the mildest, with the most abundant rainfall and the most ecologically well-preserved area.

The huge altitude difference, comprehensive climatic zone spectrum, complex geographical structure, and rich species resources have provided an ideal place for the study of biodiversity. It is one of the most suitable places globally to study the vertical distribution pattern of biodiversity, Chen said.

"Recent surveys in and around Medog have found a large number of new species and records of small mammals, which means that small mammal diversity in the region may still be underestimated, and there is a long way to go for further surveys and study of small mammal diversity in this area," Chen said.

In 2021, two new species of woolly flying squirrels were found in Southwest China's Yunnan Province and Tibet.

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