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Type: Article
Published: 2021-04-07
Page range: 434–460
Abstract views: 278
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Extinct insular oryzomyine rice rats (Rodentia: Sigmodontinae) from the Grenada Bank, southern Caribbean

Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA Environmental Archaeology Program, Florida Museum of Natural History, FL 32611, USA
Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
Departamento de Vertebrados, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 20940-040 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK
Rodentia Carriacou extinct mammal Holocene Megalomys Oryzomyini zooarchaeology Zygodontomys


The Lesser Antillean island chain in the eastern Caribbean formerly supported a diverse rodent fauna including multiple endemic genera of oryzomyine rice rats. The Caribbean rice rats are now all extinct, with most island populations known only from Holocene palaeontological and zooarchaeological material and with many remaining taxonomically undescribed. Rice rat material is reported from several pre-Columbian Ceramic Age (late Holocene) archaeological sites on the Grenada Bank, including sites on Grenada and Carriacou, but the taxonomic identity and diversity of the Grenada Bank rice rats has remained uncertain. We provide a morphology-based description of rice rats from Grenada and Carriacou, and analyze their phylogenetic and biogeographical affinities to other Caribbean and mainland Neotropical oryzomyines. We recognize two taxa from the Grenada Bank: we describe the new species Megalomys camerhogne from Pearls (Grenada), representing the largest-bodied member of the extinct endemic Caribbean genus Megalomys, and we refer smaller-bodied oryzomyine material from Pearls and Sabazan (Carriacou) to the widespread extant Neotropical species Zygodontomys brevicauda. Body size variation within Megalomys correlates with island bank area and might thus reflect historical rather than modern biogeography. Zygodontomys specimens from the Grenada Bank fall within the upper end of size variation in extant populations and may constitute an example of ‘island gigantism’, but it is possible that occurrence of this widespread species on the Grenada Bank might reflect prehistoric human-mediated translocation. We predict further endemic Caribbean rice rat taxa remain to be discovered, including a possible species of Megalomys on the neighbouring island of St. Vincent.



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