Afrotheria - the African Mammals - of southern Africa's Journal

Journal archives for October 2022

03 October, 2022

Orders of Afrotheria (African Mammals)

Orders and number of species in southern Africa in 2022
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Posted on 03 October, 2022 13:00 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Golden Moles

The Golden Moles (Chrysochloridae) comprise 21 species in 10 genera and 2 subfamilies. Some 18 species are endemic to southern Africa (with Chrysochloris stuhlmanni,, Calochlris leucorhina & Calochlris tytonis being outside).
For ID note the fur colour and roughness, skull size, relative sizes of foreclaws 1, 2 and 4. Of taxonomic importance is the malleus (the hammer bone in the inner ear), and the mallear vesicle that houses it, but this requires skulls.

Subfamily Chrysochlorinae

Genus Chrysospalax Giant Golden Moles
2 spp. differ in size.

  • larger (skulls > 30mm long)
  • fur long and course, without sheen
  • malleus (hammer bone in ear) in large mallear vesicle, showing as lump in skull.

All other genera have skulls < 30mm long and a sheen to the silky fur.

Genus Cryptochloris Sandveld Golden Moles
2 spp (fur colour, malleus shape): confined to west coast of Namaqualand

  • skull: frontal expanded, mallear vesicle reduced - not prominent, but visible
  • first and second front claws almost equal in size
  • plantar pad at base of first front claw

Genus Chrysochloris
2 spp (+1 c Africa) (fur colour, malleus shape)

  • mallear vesicle bulging in rear of eye orbit
  • first claw of forefoot much shorter than second claw
  • plantar pad absent

Genus Eremitalpa Coastal Golden Moles
1 sp - in loose coastal sands, West Coast

  • skull very broad (width 80-90% of length)
  • mallear vesicle only a very small swelling - malleus spherical
  • fourth claw of forefoot well developed (>2.5 mm long)

The following two genera lack a visible mallear vesicle on the external skull.

Genus Carpitalpa
1 sp

  • larger (>25mm skull length)
  • skull elongate (width < 60% length)
  • stylohyal bone bulbous

Genus Chlorotalpa
2 spp (fur colour, stylohyal bone, X chromosome)

  • smaller (<25mm skull length)
  • skull broader (width > 60% length)
  • stylohyal bone slender

Subfamily Amblysominae

Genus Huetia (Congo Golden Mole Huetia leucorhina) outside of region

Genus Calcochloris
1 sp - with 3 subspecies (+1 c Africa)

  • First premolar molariform, canine bicuspid
  • skull broad (rostral width >21% skull length; skull width >70% length)
  • claws gracile (3rd digit longest)
  • orange underfur

Genus Neamblysomus
2 spp (size, head width)

  • talonid (on lower molar) absent
  • third molar present
  • palate broad

Genus Amblysomus
5 spp (size of skull and claws (esp. 3rd), fur colour, chromosome number)

  • talonid (on lower molar) well developed
  • third molar absent
  • palate narrow
  • malleus small
Posted on 03 October, 2022 14:19 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 2 comments | Leave a comment


Dassies comprise 3 genera and 7 species, with many spectacular extinct fossils.
Each genus has a single species in southern Africa.

Procavia capensis
Rock Dassie (2 out of 6 ssp in s Afr)

  • colonial
  • molars hypsodont
  • mammae 1 pr pectoral, 2 pr inguinal
  • eyebrows pale and inconspicuous
    (P.c. capensis: black dorsal gland hairs; P.c.welwitschii: pale yellow or white dorsal gland hairs)

Heterohyrax brucei
Yellow Spotted Dassie (2 out of 3 ssp in s Afr)

  • colonial
  • molars brachydont
  • mammae 1 pr pectoral or absent, 2 pr inguinal
  • yellow dorsal gland hairs
  • eyebrows white and conspicuous
  • pale below and paler on sides
    (H.b. ruddi: w Moz, Zim, e Bot; H.b. grantii: Lim)

Dendrohyrax (4 spp total)
Dendrohyrax arboreus Southern Tree Dassie (1 ssp in region)

  • solitary or couples
  • molars brachydont
  • mammae 1 pr pectoral or absent, 1 or 2 pr inguinal
  • fur longer- appears woolly
  • eyebrows pale and inconspicuous
Posted on 03 October, 2022 15:34 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 1 comment | Leave a comment


The Sengis (Elephant Shrews) comprise 3 genera and 10 spp in s Afr.
A few other species and genera occur in tropical and north Africa.

Petrodromus Fourtoe Sengis (1 - 11 sp or ssp)
Petrodromus tetradactylus Fourtoe Sengi (6 of 9 ssp in region - fur colour and hairs on tail)

  • 4 toes on hind feet
  • hallax absent
  • larger (> 160 mm head-body)
  • mammae 2 prs pectoral

Macroscelides Roundear Sengis
(3 sp or 3 ssp of M. falvicaudatus)

  • auditory bullae enormously inflated (and visible as round swellings at back of skull)
  • upper incisor 2 & 3 broad and bilobed at tip
  • 5 toes on hind feet
  • smaller (< 160 mm head-body)
  • mammae 3 prs (2 pectoral, 1 inguical)

Elephantulus Typical Sengis
6 sp in s Afr (molar numbers, lingual cusps on molars, ear supratragus shape - a visible feature!, eye rings, foot sole colour)

  • 5 toes on hind feet
  • smaller (< 160 mm head-body)
  • mammae 3 prs
  • auditory bullae normal and not obvious
  • upper incisors all normal
Posted on 03 October, 2022 16:06 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 7 comments | Leave a comment