Golden vizcacha rat

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Golden vizcacha rat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Hystricomorpha
Superfamily: Octodontoidea
Family: Octodontidae
Tribe: Octodontini
Genus: Pipanacoctomys
Mares, Braun, Barquez, and Díaz, 2000
Species: P. aureus
Binomial name
Pipanacoctomys aureus
Mares, Braun, Barquez, and Díaz, 2000

The golden vizcacha rat (Pipanacoctomys aureus) is the single species of the genus Pipanacoctomys of the rodent family Octodontidae.[2] This animal is tetraploid and has 4x = 2n = 92 chromosomes.[3] This species and its sister-species, the plains viscacha rat (Tympanoctomys barrerae) (4x = 102), appear to have arisen from the diploid mountain vizcacha rat (Octomys mimax),[3] (2x = 2n = 56) as a result of the doubling and subsequent loss of some chromosomes.

Description[edit]

The golden vizcacha rat grows to a head-and-body length of about 170 millimetres (7 in) with a tufted tail of about 140 millimetres (6 in). The dorsal fur is golden-blond and the underparts are white.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The species is known from Catamarca Province of northwestern Argentina, where specimens are known only from the Salar de Pipanaco, a salt flat. This habitat consists largely of low, salt-loving shrubs, and the soil consists of sand with high levels of salt. It feeds on the halophytic plants growing there.[5] The genus is named after the locale, with “octo” being a reference to the figure-eight ridge on its cheek tooth.

Status[edit]

The golden vizcacha rat is only found within a very restricted area totalling less than 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi) and it actually occupies only about one tenth of that area. It lives among the salt-loving plants that live between the salt pans and the desert. It is threatened by conversion of its very restricted habitat to agricultural use, for the growing of olives, and its population trend is downwards. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as "critically endangered".[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lessa, E., Ojeda, R. & Bidau, C. (2008). Pipanacoctomys aureus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  2. ^ Woods, C.A.; Kilpatrick, C.W. (2005). "Infraorder Hystricognathi". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 1572–1573. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ a b Gallardo, M. H. et al. (2004). Whole-genome duplications in South American desert rodents (Octodontidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 82, 443-451.
  4. ^ Mares, M. A.; Braun, J. K.; Barquez, R. M.; Díaz, M. M. (2000). "Two new genera and species of halophytic desert mammals from isolated salt flats in Argentina" (PDF). Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University 203: 1–27. 
  5. ^ Mares, Michael A. (1 November 2003). "Desert dreams: seeking the secret mammals of the salt pans - Naturalist at Large" (PDF). Natural History: 29–34.