Afrotherian Systematics

The following classification has been assembled by members of the IUCN-SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group. Superscripts refer to footnotes in each section. The binomial for each species is followed with the 2016 IUCN Red List categories of threat:

[DD] = Data Deficient [VU] = Vulnerable
[LC] = Least Concern [EN] = Endangered
[NT] = Near Threatened [CR] = Critically Endangered

The common English names for all species are included to the right of the scientific names. At the end of each section are literature citations that support the classification. For further details, see back issues of Afrotherian Conservation – Newsletter of the IUCN-SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group.

Supercohort: Afrotheria

Click on orders below to expand or contract

Order: Afrosoricida (55 species) | Suborder: Chrysochloridea — Golden Moles (21 species)

Stanhope et al. (1998) grouped golden moles and tenrecs in the new order Afrosoricida. The existence of this clade, and its affinities with other Afrotherian taxa, is strongly supported by phylogenies based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences, and rare genomic changes such as indels (insertions and deletions), SINES (short interspersed nuclear sequences) and chromosomal rearrangements (Springer et al. 2004). Bronner et al. (2003) reluctantly accepted Afrosoricida as the ordinal name for this clade, a treatment followed by Bronner and Jenkins (2005) who argue that the alternative (and earlier) names "Tenrecoidea" and "Tenrecomorpha" are unsuitable at the ordinal level.

Subordinal distinction between the tenrecs (Tenrecomorpha) and golden moles (Chrysochloridea) has been motivated based on analyses of both morphological (Butler, 1972, 1988; MacPhee and Novacek, 1993) analyses and the above mentioned molecular studies indicating an early phylogenetic divergence.

Overall Classification

Bronner, G.N. and P.D. Jenkins. 2005. Order Afrosoricida. Pp. 70-81 in Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition. Wilson, D. E. and D.M. Reeder (eds.). Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 2142 pp.

The golden mole classification follows the treatment of Bronner & Jenkins (2005), and is based largely on the treatment of Meester et al. (1986) for the Chrysochlorinae, and Bronner (1995; 1996; 2000) for the Amblysominae. Type species are indicated by asterisks. Superscripts denote footnotes explained below.

Order: Afrosoricida (55 species)
Suborder: Chrysochloridea (21 species) Golden Moles
Family: Chrysochloridae  
        Subfamily: Chrysochlorinae 1  
              Genus: Eremitalpa  
                    Species: Eremitalpa granti* [LC] Grant's Golden Mole
              Genus: Chrysospalax  
                    Species: Chrysospalax trevelyani* [EN] Giant Golden Mole
                    Species: Chrysospalax villosus [VU] Rough-haired Golden Mole
              Genus: Chrysochloris  
                    Subgenus: Chrysochloris  
                          Species: Chrysochloris asiatica* [LC] Cape Golden Mole
                          Species: Chrysochloris visagiei incertae sedis2 [DD] Visagie’s Golden Mole
                    Subgenus: Kilimatalpa  
                          Species: Chrysochloris (K.) stuhlmanni* [LC] Stuhlmann’s Golden Mole
              Genus: Cryptochloris  
                    Species: Cryptochloris zyli* [EN] Van Zyl’s Golden Mole
                    Species: Cryptochloris wintoni [CR] De Winton’s Golden Mole
              Genus: Carpitalpa  
                    Species: Carpitalpa arendsi* [VU] Arend’s Golden Mole
              Genus: Chlorotalpa  
                    Species: Chlorotalpa duthieae* [VU] Duthie’s Golden Mole
                    Species: Chlorotalpa sclateri [LC] Sclater’s Golden Mole
        Subfamily: Amblysominae 1  
              Genus: Calcochloris  
                    Subgenus: Calcochloris  
                          Species: Calcochloris (C.) obtusirostris* [LC] Yellow Golden Mole
                    Subgenus: Huetia 3  
                          Species: Calcochloris (H.) leucorhinus* [DD] Congo Golden Mole
                          Species: Calcochloris (H.) tytonis incertae sedis4 [DD] Somali Golden Mole
              Genus: Amblysomus  
                    Species: Amblysomus hottentotus* 5 [LC] Hottentot Golden Mole
                    Species: Amblysomus corriae6 [NT] Fynbos Golden Mole
                    Species: Amblysomus septentrionalis 6 [NT] Highveld Golden Mole
                    Species: Amblysomus robustus 6 [VU] Robust Golden Mole
                    Species: Amblysomus marleyi 6 [EN] Marley’s Golden Mole
              Genus: Neamblysomus 7  
                    Species: Neamblysomus gunningi* [EN] Gunning’s Golden Mole
                    Species: Neamblysomus julianae 8 [VU & CR] Juliana’s Golden Mole

Chrysochloridea Footnotes

1. Bronner et al. (2003) resurrected these subfamilies, which were erected by Simonetta (1968), but not used by most subsequent authors.

2. Known only from the type specimen. Meester (1974) argued that it may be an aberrant specimen of C. asiatica. More data are, however, needed to confirm the status of this taxon.

3. Included in Amblysomus by Simonetta (1968) and Petter (1981), and in Chlorotalpa by Meester (1974). Assigned to Calcochloris (Subgenus Huetia Forcart, 1942) by Bronner (1995) based on limited craniometric evidence.

4. Known from only the type specimen (partially-complete skull from an owl pellet), and thus of uncertain taxonomic status.

5. Bronner (1995, 1996, 2000) demonstrated the existence of three cryptic species (marleyi, septentrionalis and robustus) in this species, as traditionally constituted (Meester 1974).

6. Previously treated as a subspecies of A. iris, and devilliersi as a subspecies of A. hottentotus , see Meester et al. (1986). Bronner (1996) showed that iris represents only a subspecies of A. hottentotus, and elevated corriae to species rank to include devilliersi (previously included as a subspecies of hottentotus).

7. Included in Amblysomus by Simonetta (1968), Meester (1974), Petter (1981) and Meester et al. (1986). Bronner (1995) elevated it to generic rank on the basis of cytogenetic and cranial divergence from Amblysomus species.

8. The nominotypical population, from the Bronberg in eastern Pretoria, is now afforded Critically Endangered status owing to quartzite mining and urbanization, which are destroying its natural habitat.

Chrysochloridea References

Bronner, G.N. 1995. Systematic revision of the golden mole genera Amblysomus, Chlorotalpa & Calcochloris (Insectivora: Chrysochloromorpha; Chrysochloridae). Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

Bronner, G.N. 1996. Geographic patters of morphometric variation in the Hottentot golden mole, Amblysomus hottentotus (Insectivora: Chrysochloridae). A multivariate analysis. Mammalia 60:729-751.

Bronner, G.N. 2000. New species and subspecies of golden mole (Chrysochloridae: Amblysomus) from Mpumalanga, South Africa . Mammalia 64:41-54.

Bronner, G.N., Hoffman, M., Taylor, P.J., Chimimba, C.T., Best, P.B., Mathee C.A., & Robinson T.J. 2003. A revised systematic checklist of the extant mammals of the southern African subregion.Durban Museum Novitates 28: 56-106.

Bronner, G.N. and P.D. Jenkins. 2005. Order Afrosoricida. Pp. 70-81. In Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition. Wilson, D. E. and D.M. Reeder (eds.). Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 2142 pp.

Butler, P.M. 1972. The problem of insectivore classification, pp. 253-265. In Studies in vertebrate evolution. Ed. K. Joysey & T. Kemp. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd.

Butler, P.M. 1988. Phylogeny of the insectivores, pp. 117-141. In The phylogeny and classification of the tetrapods, Vol. 2. Ed. M. J. Benton. Systematic Association Special Volume 35B. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

MacPhee, R.D.E. & Novacek, M.J. 1993. Definition and relationships of Lipotyphla, pp. 13-31. In Mammal phylogeny: placentals. Ed. F.S. Szalay,M.J. Novacek & M.C. McKenna. New York: Springer Verlag.

Meester, J. 1974. Family Chrysochloridae, part 1.3, pp 1-7. In The mammals of Africa: an identification manual. Eds J. Meester & H.W. Setzer. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Meester, J.A.J., Rautenbach, I.L., Dippenaar, N.J. & Baker, C.M. 1986. Classification of southern African mammals. Transvaal Museum Monographs. 5: 1-359.

Petter, F. 1981. Remarques sur le systématique des chrysochlorides. Mammalia 45:49-53.

Simonetta, A.M. 1968. A new golden mole from Somalia with an appendix on the taxonomy of the Family Chrysochloridae (Mammalia: Insectivora). Monitore zoologica italiano (Supplement) 2: 27-55.

Springer M.S., Stanhope M.J., Madsen O. & de Jong W.W. 2004. Molecules consolidate the placental mammal tree. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19:430–438.

Stanhope, M.J, Waddell, V.G., Madsen, O., de Jong, W., Hedges, B., Cleven, G.C., Kao, D. & Springer, M.S. 1999. Molecular evidence for multiple origins of Insectivora and for a new order of endemic African insectivore mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 95: 9967-9972.

Order: Afrosoricida (55 species) | Suborder: Tenrecomorpha — Tenrecs (34 species)

Order: Afrosoricida (55 species)
Suborder: Tenrecomorpha (34 species)
Family: Tenrecidae (33 species) Tenrecs
        Subfamily: Potamogalinae  Otter shrews
              Genus: Potamogale  
                    Species: Potamogale velox [LC] Giant Otter Shrew
              Genus: Micropotamogale  
                    Species: Micropotamogale lamottei [EN] Nimba Otter Shrew
                    Species: Micropotamogale ruwenzorii [NT] Ruwenzori Otter Shrew
        Subfamily: Tenrecinae Spiny tenrecs
              Genus: Echinops  
                    Species: Echinops telfairi [LC] Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
              Genus: Hemicentetes Streaked Tenrecs
                    Species: Hemicentetes semispinosus  [LC] Lowland Streaked Tenrec
                    Species: Hemicentetes nigriceps [LC] Highland Streaked Tenrec
              Genus: Setifer  
                    Species: Setifer setosus [LC] Greater Hedgehog Tenrec
              Genus: Tenrec  
                    Species: Tenrec ecaudatus [LC] Tail-less Tenrec
        Subfamily: Geogalinae  
                    Species: Geogale aurita [LC] Large-eared Tenrec
        Subfamily: Oryzorictinae Furred Tenrecs
              Genus: Limnogale  
                    Species: Limnogale mergulus [VU] Web-footed Tenrec
              Genus: Microgale9  
                    Species: Microgale brevicaudata [LC] Short-tailed Shrew Tenrec
                          (syn. Microgale breviceps)  
                          (syn. Paramicrogale occidentalis)  
                    Species: Microgale cowani [LC] Cowan's Shrew Tenrec
                          (syn. Microgale crassipes)  
                          (syn. Microgale longirostris)  
                          (syn. Microgale cowani nigrescens)  
                    Species: Microgale dobsoni [LC] Dobson's Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale drouhardi [LC] Drouhard's Shrew Tenrec
                          (syn. Microgale melanorrhachis)  
                    Species: Microgale dryas [VU] Dryad Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale fotsifotsy [LC] Pale Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale gracilis [LC] Gracile Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale grandidieri 12 [?]  
                    Species: Microgale gymnorhyncha [LC] Naked-nosed Shrew Tenrec
                   Species: Microgale jenkinsae 10 [EN]  
                    Species: Microgale jobihely 10 [EN]
                    Species: Microgale longicaudata [LC] Lesser Long-tailed Shrew Tenrec
                          (syn. Microgale prolixacaudata)  
                    Species: Microgale majori 11 [LC] Major’s Long-tailed Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale monticola [VU] Montane Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale nasoloi [VU] Nasolo's Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale parvula [LC] Pygmy Shrew Tenrec
                          (syn. Microgale pulla)  
                    Species: Microgale principula [LC] Greater Long-tailed Shrew Tenrec
                          (syn. Microgale decaryi)  
                          (syn. Microgale sorella)  
                    Species: Microgale pusilla [LC] Least Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale soricoides [LC] Shrew-toothed Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale taiva [LC] Taiva Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale talazaci [LC] Talazac's Shrew Tenrec
                    Species: Microgale thomasi [LC] Thomas's Shrew Tenrec
              Genus: Oryzorictes Rice Tenrecs
                    Species: Oryzorictes hova [LC] Mole-like Rice Tenrec
                          (syn. Oryzorictes talpoides)  
                    Species: Oryzorictes tetradactylus [DD] Four-toed Rice Tenrec

Tenrecomorpha Footnotes

9. Revised by MacPhee (1987) American Museum Novitates (2889): 1-45.; reviewed in part by Jenkins, Goodman & Raxworthy (1996) Fieldiana, Zoology (85), pp. 191-217 and Jenkins, Raxworthy & Nussbaum (1997) Bull. nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Zool.) 63: 1 - 12. Note that one more new species description is in press (2006).

10. Recently described species - Goodman, S. M. & Soarimalala, V. (2004) Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 117, 265-279. Goodman, S.M., Raxworthy, C. J., Maminirina, C.P. and Olson, L.E. 2006. A new species of shrew tenrec (Microgale jobihely) from northern Madagascar. Jour. of Zool., Lond. 270: 384-398.

11. Recognized as a distinct species by Olson, Goodman & Yoder (2004) Biol J Linn Soc 83: 1-22.

12. Recently described species - L. E. Olson, Z. Rakotomalala, K. B. P. Hildebrandt, C. Lanier, C. J. Raxworthy, AND S. M. Goodman. 2009. Phylogeography of Microgale brevicaudata (Tenrecidae) and Description of a New Species from Western Madagascar. Journal of Mammalogy 90:1095-1110.

Tenrecomorpha References

Heim de Balsac H. and F. Bourlière. 1955. Ordre des Insectivores.Systématique. In P.-P. Grassé (ed.): Mammifères: anatomie, éthologie, systématique. Traité de Zoologie 17: 1653-1697. Masson, Paris.

Geogaline, Tenrecine and Oryzorctine classification:

Bronner, G.N. and P.D. Jenkins. 2005. Order Afrosoricida. Pp. 70-81. In Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition. Wilson, D. E. and D.M. Reeder (eds.). Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 2142 pp.

Order: Macroscelidea — Sengis or Elephant-Shrews (19 species)

Order: Macroscelidea Sengis or Elephant-shrews
Family: Macroscelididae  
        Subfamily: Rhynchocyoninae Giant Sengis
              Genus: Rhynchocyon  
                    Species: Rhynchocyon chrysopygus [EN] Golden-rumped Sengi
                    Species: Rhynchocyon cirnei [LC] Chequered Sengi
                    Species: Rhynchocyon petersi [LC] Black and Rufous Sengi or Zanj Sengi
                    Species: Rhynchocyon udzungwensis [VU] Gray-faced sengi
        Subfamily: Macroscelidinae Soft-furred Sengis
              Genus: Petrodromus  
                    Species: Petrodromus tetradactylus [LC] Four-toed Sengi
              Genus: Petrosaltator  
                    Species: Petrosaltator rozeti [LC] North African Sengi
              Genus: Macroscelides Round-eared Sengis
                    Species: Macroscelides flavicaudatus [LC] Namib round-eared sengi
                    Species: Macroscelides micus [LC] Etendeka round-eared Sengi
                    Species: Macroscelides proboscideus [LC] Karoo round-eared sengi
              Genus: Elephantulus Long-eared Sengis
                    Species: Elephantulus brachyrhynchus [LC] Short-snouted Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus edwardii [LC] Cape Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus fuscipes [DD] Dusky-footed Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus fuscus [DD] Dusky Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus intufi [LC] Bushveld Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus myurus [LC] Eastern Rock Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus pilicaudus [DD] Karoo Rock Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus revoili [DD] Somali Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus rufescens [LC] Rufous Sengi
                    Species: Elephantulus rupestris [LC] Western Rock Sengi

Macroscelidea References

Corbet, G.B. and J. Hanks. 1968. A revision of the elephant-shrews, Family Macroscelididae. Bulletin of the British Museum of Natural History, Zoological Series 16:1-111.

Corbet, G.B. 1971. Family Macroscelididae. Part 1.5, pp. 1-6 in J. Meester and H.W. Setzer (eds). The Mammals of Africa: An Identification Manual. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., USA.

Dumbacher, J.P., G.B. Rathbun, H.A. Smit, and S.J. Eiseb. 2012. Phylogeny and taxonomy of the round-eared sengis or elephant-shrews, genus Macroscelides (Mammalia, Afrotheria, Macroscelidea). PLoS ONE 7(3):e32410 (12 pp + 4 pp. supplement table).

Dumbacher, J.P., Rathbun, G.B., Osborne, T.O., Griffin, M., & Eiseb, S.J. (2014) A new species of round-eared sengi (genus Macroscelides) from Namibia. Journal of Mammalogy, 95, 443-454.

Rathbun, G.B. 2009. Why is there discordant diversity in sengi (Mammalia: Afrotheria: Macroscelidea) taxonomy and ecology? African Journal of Ecology 47:1-13.

Rathbun, G.B. and J. Kingdon. 2006. The etymology of “SENGI”. Afrotherian Conservation – Newsletter of the IUCN-SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group:4:14-15.

Rovero, F., G. B. Rathbun, A. Perkin, T. Jones, D. Ribble, C. Leonard, R. R. Mwakisoma, and N. Doggart. 2008. A new species of giant sengi or elephant-shrew (genus Rhynchocyon) highlights the exceptional biodiversity of the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania. Journal of Zoology, London 274:126-133.

Schlitter, D.A. 2005. Order Macroscelidea. Pp. 82-85 in Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition. Wilson, D. E. and D.M. Reeder (eds.).  Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 2142 pp.

Smit, H. A., T. J. Robinson, J. Watson, and B. Jansen van Vuuren. 2008. A new species of elephant- shrew (Afrotheria: Macroscelidea: Elephantulus) from South Africa. Journal of Mammalogy 89:1257-1269.

Order: Tubulidentata — Aardvark (1 species)

Order: Tubulidentata (1 species)
Family: Orycteropodidae  
        Genus: Orycteropus  
              Species: Orycteropus afer [LC] Aardvark

Tubulidentata References

Lehmann, T. 2009. Phylogeny and systematics of the Orycteropididae (Mammalia, Tubulidentata). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 155:649-702.

Meester, J. 1971. Order Tubulidentata. Part 10, pp. 1-2 in J. Meester and H.W. Setzer (eds). The Mammals of Africa: An Identification Manual. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., USA.

Schlitter, D.A.  2005. Order Tubulidentata.  Pp. 86 in Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition. Wilson, D. E. and D.M. Reeder (eds.).  Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 2142 pp.

Order: Hyracoidea — Hyraxes or Dassies (5 species)

Order: Hyracoidea (5 species) Hyraxes or Dassies
Family: Procaviidae  
        Genus: Dendrohyrax Tree Hyraxes
              Species: Dendrohyrax arboreus [LC] Southern Tree Hyrax
              Species: Dendrohyrax dorsalis [LC] Western Tree Hyrax
              Species: Dendrohyrax validus [LC]
Eastern Tree Hyrax
        Genus: Heterohyrax  
              Species: Heterohyrax brucei  [LC] Yellow-spotted Hyrax
        Genus: Procavia  
              Species: Procavia capensis [LC] Rock Hyrax

Hyracoidea References

Shoshani, J.  2005. Order Hyracoidea.  Pp. 87-89 in Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition. Wilson, D. E. and D.M. Reeder (eds.).  Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 2142 pp.

Schlitter, D. A., 1993, Order Hyracoidea. In: Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (eds. D. E. Wilson & D. M. Reeder) (Second Edition). Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C. pp. 373-374.

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