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Bonn. zoo!. Beitr.  S. 241-251  Bonn, November 1991

        Variation and evolution of the Sicilian shrew:
   Taxonomic conclusions and description of a possibly

       related species from the Pleistocene of Morocco
                        (Mammalia: Soricidae)

                                         Rainer Hu tterer

         Ab stra c t. A synthesis is given on the temporal and geographical size variation of the
         shrew Crocidula sicula Miller, 1901. It is shown that Pleistocene populations from Sicily
         and Malta, previously regarded as a separate taxon, have evolved to the present-day
         populations of Sicily, the Egadi Islands, and Gozo. Due to sea leve! changes, probably all
         these islands were temporarily connected by landbridges during the Pleistocene. Subse-
         quent geographical isolation led to the evolution of at least three morphologically distinct
         extant populations, two of which are named as new. In addition, a possibly related new
         species from the Pleistocene of Morocco is described.
         Key words. Mammalia, Soricidae, Crocidura, Sicily, Malta, Egadi Is., Morocco, size
         variation, evolution, taxonomy.


The shrews of the Mediterranean Islands have been subject of contradictory tax-
onomic opinions for many years. This is especially true for Sicily, the Egadi Islands,
and Malta (Fig. 1). lt is the merit of Vogel (1988) to have shown that the Crocidura
species of Sicily has a particular karyotype and represents an endemie species. More
recently, the same karyotype was found in shrews of Gozo, which led Vogel et al.
(1989) to the conclusion that all extant populations of Sicily, Gozo, and the Egadi
Islands probably form one biologica! species, for which the name Crocidura sicula
Miller, 1901 is available. However, Vogel et al. (1989) and Sarà et al. (1990) found con-
siderable morphological variation within the species. Furthermore, extinct popula-
tions of Malta and Sicily, described by Malec & Storch (1970), Storch (1970) and Kot-
sakis (1986), could not yèt be correctly classified. This paper gives a synthesis of
variation and taxonomy of all these populations, based on fossil and recent materia!,
and an idea of their possible evolution. The contents were presented verbally at the
"XIIlème Colloque lnternational de Mammalogie" at Banyuls-sur-Mer (France),
13 - 15 October 1989, and a summary was included in the proceeding of that con-
gress (Hutterer 1990).

                                        Material and Methods

The materia! studied consists of shrews preserved in alcohol, study skins and skulls, owl pellet
materia!, and fossi! remains, representing ca. 3105 fossi! and 86 extant specimens. 7 principal
samples were studied: l) Malta, Ghar Dalam Cave, Last Interglacial; Storch (1974) dated this
leve! as Early Pleistocene but Zammit Maempel (1989) as Middle Pleistocene; 2) idem, Last
Glacial; 3) idem, Neolithic period (see Malec & Storch 1970, and Storch 1970, for details on
the excavation); 4) Gozo, Recent (see Vogel et al. 1989); 5) Sicily, Spinagallo, Last Glacial (data
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