|Groove-toothed forest mouse|
Data Deficient (IUCN 3.1)
Musser, Carleton, 2005
The Togo mouse (or Büttner's African forest mouse or the Groove-toothed forest mouse, Leimacomys buettneri) is a unique muroid rodent. It is known from only two specimens, which were taken near the locality of Bismarckburg, near Yege, Togo in 1890.
Description and natural history
The entirety of known material for this species consists of a single poor quality dry skin, a fluid preserved animal, and a cranium and mandible. The cranium and mandible are from different animals. The material is deposited in the Zoologisches Museum of Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.
The head and body length is 118 mm with a tail of 37 mm. This tail is unusually short relative to the body length (ratio of 37%) and is considered an important diagnostic feature. The animal is dark to grey brown above and pale grey brown below. Ears are small and hairy. Feet are also somewhat hairy. The tail may be naked or slightly haired.
Incisors are shallowly grooved. The snout is long and wide, interorbital width broad, and zygomatic plate large (Musser and Carleton, 2005).
Leimacomys has been transferred back and forth between the Dendromurinae and the Murinae since its discovery. It most closely resembles Lophuromys which has been transferred to a newly erected Deomyinae on the basis of molecular data. The association with Lophuromys is thought to be due to convergent evolution due to a similar diet (Dieterlen, 1976). Tooth characters resemble dendromurines, Mystromys or basal gerbils. Denys et al. (1995) generated a phylogeny that suggested with limited support that Leimacomys is a sister taxon to the Gerbillinae.
Musser and Carleton (2005) chose to erect a new subfamily, Leimacomyinae, to house this species. They placed it in the family Muridae due to its potential connection to either the Gerbillinae or Deomyinae, but emphasized that a broad phylogenetic study including Leimacomys, and a host of nesomyids and murids is needed to determine its appropriate position.
The Togo Mouse is considered to be either critically endangered or extinct depending on the authority. Schlitter (1989) classified it as extinct, because subsequent surveys to the area failed to recover it. Grubb et al. (1998) noted that these surveys inadequately sampled appropriate habitat in Togo and neighboring Ghana, and they were reluctant to declare the species extinct. Musser and Carleton (2005) emphasized that insectivorous muroids as a group have proven difficult to capture, and that intense surveys of high elevation forest in this region are required to determine if it still persists.
The IUCN currently describes the Togo Mouse as "data deficient".
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