Marmot

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For other uses, see Marmot (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Marmoset.
Marmot
Temporal range: Late Miocene–Recent
Marmot-edit1.jpg
Yellow-bellied Marmot in Yosemite National Park
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Subfamily: Xerinae
Tribe: Marmotini
Genus: Marmota
Blumenbach, 1779
Species

15, see text

Marmots are large squirrels in the genus Marmota, of which there are 15 species. Marmots mostly live in mountainous areas, such as the Alps, northern Apennines, Eurasian steppes, Carpathians, Tatras, and Pyrenees in Europe and northwestern Asia; the Rocky Mountains, Black Hills, Cascades, Pacific Ranges, and Sierra Nevada in North America; and the Deosai Plateau in Pakistan and Ladakh in India. The groundhog of North America is a lowland marmot. The similarly sized, but more social, prairie dog is not classified in the genus Marmota but in the related genus Cynomys.

Marmots typically live in burrows (often within rockpiles, particularly in the case of the yellow-bellied marmot), and hibernate there through the winter. Most marmots are highly social and use loud whistles to communicate with one another, especially when alarmed.

Marmots mainly eat greens and many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots, and flowers.

Subgenera and species[edit]

The following is a list of all Marmota species recognized by Thorington and Hoffman[1] plus the recently defined M. kastschenkoi.[2] They divide marmots into two subgenera.

Additionally, four extinct species of marmot are recognized from the fossil record:

History and etymology[edit]

Marmota primigenia fossil

Marmots have been known since antiquity. Research by the French ethnologist Michel Peissel claimed the story of "gold-digging ants" reported by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BC, was founded on the golden Himalayan marmot of the Deosai Plateau and the habit of local tribes such as the Minaro to collect the gold dust excavated from their burrows.[3]

The etymology of the term "marmot" is uncertain. It may have arisen from the Gallo-Romance prefix marm-, meaning to mumble or murmur (an example of onomatopoeia). Another possible origin is post-classical Latin, mus montanus, meaning "mountain mouse".[4]

Beginning in 2010, Alaska celebrates February 2 as "Marmot Day", a holiday intended to observe the prevalence of marmots in that state and take the place of Groundhog Day.[5]

Examples of species[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thorington, R. W., Jr., and R. S. Hoffman. (2005). "Family Sciuridae". Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, pp. 754–818. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder, eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  2. ^ a b Brandler, OV (2003). "On species status of the forest-steppe marmot Marmota kastschenkoi (Rodentia, Marmotinae)". Zoologičeskij žurnal 82 (12): 1498–1505. 
  3. ^ Peissel, Michel. "The Ants' Gold: The Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in the Himalayas". Collins, 1984. ISBN 978-0-00-272514-9.
  4. ^ "Marmot". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. 
  5. ^ The Associated Press. "Alaska to Celebrate its First Marmot Day", Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Feb. 1, 2010. Accessed Feb. 1, 2010.

External links[edit]