Lava mouse

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Lava mouse
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene-Holocene
A life restoration of a lava mouse
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Tribe: Murini
Genus: Malpaisomys
Hutterer, Lopez-Martinez & Michaux, 1988
M. insularis
Binomial name
Malpaisomys insularis
Hutterer, Lopez-Martinez & Michaux, 1988

The lava mouse (Malpaisomys insularis) is an extinct endemic rodent from the Canary Islands, Spain.[1] It is the only species in the genus Malpaisomys.

The lava mouse is known from Holocene and Pleistocene deposits in the eastern Canary Islands, including Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, and nearby islets. Radiocarbon dates indicate that it became extinct after the European arrival in the archipelago sometime after 1270 AD, probably due to the introduction of rats.[2]

A study of its skeletal characteristics suggested that the lava mouse lived in fissures opened in the lava fields.[3] The morphology of its teeth indicates that it was an herbivore.[3]

Its evolutionary relationships were unresolved due to its fairly generic morphology. Rodents on islands generally increase in size during the course of their evolution (see also insular gigantism); the lava mouse was fairly small for an insular rodent (some 20 cm in overall length).[3] Thus, it is more likely than not that it evolved from small Pliocene mainland genera Paraethomys, Occitanomys, or relatives thereof, than being a later derivative of the Deomyinae.[4] A 2012 genomic study recovered it as a highly divergent lineage within the genus Mus sensu lato most closely related to Coelomys.[5]

This rodent owes its name Malpaisomys to the Spanish word malpaís ("badlands"), denoting the lava fields where its fossil remains are sometimes found in cavities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hutterer, Rainer; Lopez-Martinez, Nieves; Michaux, Jacques (1988). "A new rodent from Quaternary deposits of the Canary Islands and its relationships with Neogène and recent murids of Europe and Africa". Palaeovertebrata. 18 (4): 241–262.
  2. ^ Rando, Juan Carlos; Alcover, Josep Antoni; Navarro, Juan Francisco; García-Talavera, Francisco; Hutterer, Rainer; Michaux, Jacques (September 2008). "Chronology and causes of the extinction of the Lava Mouse, Malpaisomys insularis (Rodentia: Muridae) from the Canary Islands". Quaternary Research. 70 (2): 141–148. Bibcode:2008QuRes..70..141R. doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2008.04.012. ISSN 0033-5894. S2CID 86519083.
  3. ^ a b c Boye, Peter; Hutterer, Rainer; López-Martínez, Nieves; Michaux, Jacques (1992). "A reconstruction of the Lava mouse (Malpaisomys insularis), an extinct rodent of the Canary Islands". Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. 57: 29–38.
  4. ^ Renaud, Sabrina; Michaux, Jacques (December 2004). "Parallel evolution in molar outline of murine rodents: the case of the extinct Malpaisomys insularis (Eastern Canary Islands)". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 142 (4): 555–572. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2004.00140.x.
  5. ^ Pagès, Marie; Chevret, Pascale; Gros-Balthazard, Muriel; Hughes, Sandrine; Alcover, Josep Antoni; Hutterer, Rainer; Rando, Juan Carlos; Michaux, Jacques; Hänni, Catherine (2012-02-21). "Paleogenetic Analyses Reveal Unsuspected Phylogenetic Affinities between Mice and the Extinct Malpaisomys insularis, an Endemic Rodent of the Canaries". PLOS ONE. 7 (2): e31123. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...731123P. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031123. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3283599. PMID 22363563.

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