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Guzman, Jonathan A. and Roessner, Gertrud E. (2018): Skull morphometrics of Tragulus and Moschiola for an improved classification of tragulid collections. In: Mammalian Biology, Vol. 90: pp. 78-88

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Mouse-deer, represented by the extant genera Tragulus, Moschiola and Hyemoschus, are among the smallest living ruminants. Today these animals are exclusively distributed in the Indo-Malayan and Afrotropical regions. For the past sixty years, the taxonomic classification of mouse-deer included the species H. aquaticus, T./M. meminna, T. kanchil/T. javanicus, and T. javanicus/T. napu, and these species names were therefore used widely to label material stored in scientific collections. However, recent revisions based on broad phenomic analyses of specimens from collections in Asia, Europe, and North America indicate that there are in fact seven species in Tragulus and three (or four) in Moschiola, and thus challenge works with collection specimens named based on the older classification. This paper presents the results from an independent, multivariate morphometrical analysis of a small sample set of 43 Tragulus and Moschiola skulls kept in public collections in Basel, Munich, Stuttgart, and Vienna that was conducted to explore character diversity. Our results revealed three morphometric clusters in Tragulus and two in Moschiola that concur with some of the recently revised species concepts, i.e. T. napu ('our' Borneo, Sumatra, and Sunda Islands specimens), T. kanchil ('our' Sumatra and Thailand specimens), T. javanicus ('our' Java specimens), M. indica ('our' India specimens) and M. meminna/M. kathygre ('our' Sri Lanka specimens). To assist keepers of osteological collections with the identification of tragulids based on the most recent taxonomy, we have assembled a chart providing revised taxonomic assessments of all 43 specimens included in our analysis. In addition, we have quantified a hitherto undocumented difference in the neurocranium geometry among Asian tragulids. Individuals with a globose neurocranium are shown to belong to T. javanicus and T. kanchil, while those possessing a non-globose neurocranium are in Moschiola spp. and T. napu.

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