Tag Archives: Hispaniola

Accipitridae gen. & sp. ‘Hispaniola’

Hispaniolan Eagle (Accipitridae gen. & sp.)

The Hispaniolan Eagle is an undescribed bird of prey that inhabited the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean; it was first recognized as a new taxon in 2019.

The species reached the same dimensions as the largest living eagle species, the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetus (L.)) and the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyia (L.)), which both are known to feed on middle-sized mammals.

The Hispaniolan Eagle certainly preyed upon arboreal sloths, primates and caviomorph rodents, which all disappeared during the mid-Holocene after the arrival of humans. It is thus very likely that this eagle also died out after its prey animals vanished. [1]

*********************

References:

[1] David W. Steadman; Juan N. Almonte Milan; Alexis M. Mychajliw: An extinct eagle (Aves: Accipitridae) from the Quaternary of Hispaniola. JJournal of Raptor Research 53(3): 319-333. 2019

*********************

edited: 14.11.2021

Brotomys voratus Miller

Hispaniolan Edible Rat (Brotomys voratus)

The Hispaniolan Edible Rat was described in 1916 based on subfossil remains.

Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, a Spanish colonialist, historian, and writer gave some brief descriptions of several mammal species that lived on the island of Hispaniola in the early 16th century; most are second-hand accounts of animals he himself had not seen; there is also one account that can be attributed to the Edible Rat.:

The mohuy is an animal somewhat smaller than the hutia: its color is paler and likewise gray. This was the food most valued and esteemed by the caciques and chiefs of this island; and the character of the animal was much like the hutia except that the hair was denser and coarser (and more stiff), and very pointed and standing erect or straight above. I have not seen this animal, but there are many who declared it to be as aforesaid; and in this island there are many persons who have seen it and eaten it, and who praise this meat as better than all the others we have spoken about.” [1]

The species died out shortly after the arrival of the first European settlers in the Caribbean, who brought with them mice and rats, which very likely were the main reason for the extinction of most smaller endemic mammal species.

*********************

References:

[1] Gerrit S. Miller: Mammals eaten by Indians, Owls, and Spaniards in the coast region of the Dominican Republic. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 82(5): 1-16. 1929

*********************

Photo from: ‘Gerrit S. Miller: Mammals eaten by Indians, Owls, and Spaniards in the coast region of the Dominican Republic. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 82(5): 1-16. 1929’

(public domain)

*********************

edited: 06.05.2022

Hypsirhynchus melanichnus (Cope)

Hispaniola Racer (Hypsirhynchus melanichnus)

The Hispaniola Racer was described in 1862, it was endemic to the large island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles.

The species reached a length of about 65 cm, its back was plain olive-green colored, there was a white stripe spanning from the neck to the middle of the body, the belly was olive-green as well, yet somewhat lighter than the back.

The biology of the Hispaniola Racer is not well known, it was diurnal and apparently was mostly found on the ground.

The Hispaniola Racer was last found in 1910 and is now considered extinct. The reasons for the extinction of this species are the same as for its gongener from the nearby island of Jamaica, the Jamaican Racer (Hypsirhynchus ater (Gosse)), that is habitat loss and predation by the introduced and highly invasive Javan Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire)).  

*********************

Depiction from: ‘Doris M. Cochran: The Herpetology of Hispaniola. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 177. 1941’

(not in copyright)

*********************

edited: 30.10.2020

Nesophontes micrus G. M. Allen

Western Cuban Nesophontes (Nesophontes micrus)

The Western Cuban Nesophontes was described in 1917 based on subfossil remains that were recovered from cave deposits on the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola.

*********************

Photo from: ‘G. M. Allen: Fossil Mammals from Cuba. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 62: 131-148. 1918’

(not in copyright)

*********************

edited: 14.05.2022

Quemisia gravis Miller

Twisted-toothed Mouse (Quemisia gravis)

The Twisted-toothed Mouse was described in 1929 based on subfossil remains, mainly teeth, which were recovered from cave deposits found both in the Dominican Republic as well as in Haiti, Hispaniola.

The species must have reached a size of 60 to 80 cm in length and might have weighed as much as about 20 kg.

There are contemporary reports from the 16th century which tell us of an animal called Quemi that was hunted and eaten by the native people of Hispaniola; these reports may refer to this species or maybe to the Hispaniolan Hutia (Plagiodontia aedium (F. Cuvier), a species that still exists.

*********************

edited: 05.05.2022

Nesotrochis steganinos Olson

Haitian Cave Rail (Nesotrochis steganinos)

The Haitian Cave Rail was described in 1974 on the basis of subfossil remains, it is the smallest of the three species that are assigned to this genus whose relations, by the way, are still quite unknown.

The species, like its congeners, showed a remarkable sexual dimorphism.:

There appear to be two distinct types of humeri in N. steganinos – larger ones with a shallow elongated brachial depression … and smaller ones with a very deep, rounded brachial depression …. These at first seemed so disparate that I took them to be from entirely different species. However, they are alike in all but these two respects and one of the specimens (205691) is somewhat intermediate. it seems best, therefore, to refer all of these humeri to N. steganinos, since there is no other indication of the presence of two species of Nesotrochis in the deposits. The size differences are in accord with observed size differences in the hindlimb, while differences in the brachial depression are possibly indicative of a sexual dimorphism that involved more than size.” [1]

***

The remains of the Haitian Cave Rail were found in cave deposits containing great quantities of bones of several larger, now mostly extinct rodents and other mammals which were accumulated by the likewise extinct Hispaniolan Giant Barn Owl (Tyto ostologa Wetmore). [1]

*********************

References:

[1] Storrs L. Olson: A new species of Nesotrochis from Hispaniola, with notes on other fossil rails from the West Indies (Aves: Rallidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 87(38): 439-450. 1974
[2] Jessica A. Oswald; Ryan S. Terrill; Brian J. Stucky; Michelle J. LeFebvre; David W. Steadman; Robert P. Guralnick: Supplementary material from “Ancient DNA from the extinct Haitian cave-rail (Nesotrochis steganinos) suggests a biogeographic connection between the Caribbean and Old World”. Biological Letters 17(3). 2021 

*********************

edited: 16.02.2020

Acratocnus ye MacPhee, White & Woods

Yesterday’s Ground Sloth (Acratocnus ye 

This species was described in 2000 based on (sub)fossil bones found on the Haitian part of the island of Hispaniola.

The species disappeared at the beginning of the Holocene era. [1]

*********************

References:

[1] R. D. E. MacPhee; Jennifer L. White; Charles A. Woods: New megalonychid sloths (Phyllophaga, Xenarthra) from the Quaternary of Hispaniola. American Museum Novitates 3303: 1-32. 2000

*********************

edited: 16.06.2020

Capromyidae gen. & sp. ‘Hispaniola’

Indeterminate Hutia (Capromyidae gen. & sp. ‘Hispaniola’)  

The subfossil remains of this form, whose closest relative seems to be the Imposter Hutia (Hexolobodon phenax (Miller)), known only in a subfossil state as well, were found in 1989 (?) on the island of Hispaniola.  

The bones have an age of about 3600 to 4700 years. [1] 

*********************  

References: 

[1] Samuel T. Turvey: Holocene Extinctions. Oxford University Press, USA 2009

*********************

edited: 03.09.2020

Leiocephalus endomychus Schwartz

Central Haitian Curly-tailed Lizard (Leiocephalus endomychus)  

The Central Haitian Curly-tailed Lizard was described in 1967, originally as a subspecies of Cochran’s Curly-tailed Lizard (Leiocephalus vinculum Cochran) but was revalued to species status in 1992. [1][2]  

The species was apparently restricted to the Plateau Central in the Haitian part of the island of Hispaniola, Greater Antilles.  

The Central Haitian Curly-tailed Lizard was a smaller species, it reached a size of about 15 cm (including the tail). [1]  

The species was last recorded in 1976 and is now believed to be extinct.  

*********************  

References:  

[1] Albert Schwartz: The Leiocephalus (Lacertilia, Iguanidae) of Hispaniola, II. The Leiocephalus personatus complex. Tulane Studies in Zoology 14(1): 1-53. 1967 
[2] Gregory K. Pregill: Systematics of the West Indian Lizard Genus Leiocephalus (Squamata: Iguania: Tropiduridae). Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 84: 1-69. 1992  

*********************

throat of a male  

Depiction from: ‘ Albert Schwartz: The Leiocephalus (Lacertilia, Iguanidae) of Hispaniola, II. The Leiocephalus personatus complex. Tulane Studies in Zoology 14(1): 1-53. 1967’  

(under creative commons license (3.0)) 
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

********************* 

edited: 08.09.2019

Scolopax brachycarpa Steadman & Takano

Hispaniolan Woodcock (Scolopax brachycarpa)

This species was first recorded from a Holocene fossil site from Trouing Jean Paul, a high elevation limestone sinkhole in the Massif de la Selle, Haiti, which represents the prey remains of the the endemic Ashy-faced Barn Owl (Tyto glaucops (Kaup)). These can be dated to an age of about 1000 CE, thus date to a time when most of the larger endemic bird – and mammal species already had been extirpated by the first Amerindian settlers, but still some 500 years before the arrival of the first European conquerors. [1][2]

***

No woodcock species is today known to inhabit the Caribbean region, but formerly there appears to have been a small radiation of at least two species, maybe some more to be discovered in the future. 

The Hispaniolan Woodcock most likely disapperaed due to hunting and habitat destruction, it may even have survived into quite historical times, but this assumption needs to be proven.  

********************

References:

[1] David W. Steadman; Oona M. Takano: A late-Holocene bird community from Hispaniola: Refining the chronology of vertebrate extinction in the West Indies. Holocene 23(7): 936-944. 2013
[2] Oona M. Takano; David W. Steadman: A new species of Woodcock (Aves: Scolopacidae: Scolopax) from Hispaniola, West Indies. Zootaxa 4032(1): 117-126. 2015

********************

edited: 26.01.2019

Brotomys contractus Miller

Haitian Edible Rat (Brotomys contractus)

The Haitian Edible Rat was described in 1929 based on subfossil remains.

In pre-European times, the native spiny rats of the Caribbean were very common and were an important part of the diet of the indigenous people.

Most of the known species – including this one – did not become extinct until a short time after the arrival of the Europeans. [1][2][3]

*********************

References:

[1] Gerrit S. Miller: A second collection of mammals from caves near St. Michel, Haiti. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 81(9): 1-30. 1929
[2] Samuel T. Turvey: Holocene Extinctions. Oxford University Press, USA 2009
[3] Alexandra van der Geer; George Lyras; John de Vos; Michael Dermitzakis: Evolution of Island Mammals: Adaptation and Extinction of Placental Mammals on Islands. John Wiley & Sons 2010

*********************

Photo from: ‘Gerrit S. Miller: A second collection of mammals from caves near St. Michel, Haiti. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 81(9): 1-30. 1929’

(not in copyright)

*********************

edited: 05.05.2022

Tyto ostologa Wetmore

Hispaniolan Giant Barn Owl (Tyto ostologa)  

The Hispaniolan Giant Barn Owl was described in 1922 on the basis of subfossil remains that had been recovered from several cave site on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles. [1]  

The species survived until the Holocene and most probably disappeared after the extinction of its main prey items, the large endemic mammals that mostly were extirpated by the first Amerindians that reached the islands of the Caribbean.  

*********************  

References:  

[1] William Suárez; Storrs L. Olson: Systematics and distribution of the giant fossil barn owls of the West Indies (Aves: Strigiformes: Tytonidae). Zootaxa 4020 (3): 533-553. 2015  

*********************  

edited: 08.09.2019

Celestus anelpistus (Schwartz, Graham & Duval)

Altagracia Galliwasp (Celestus anelpistus)

This species was described in 1979; it is known only from the type series that was collected in 1977 in a small valley in the San Cristóbal Province in the southern  Dominican Republic.

The sole known type locality has been converted into agricultural land and it is very likely extinct.

*********************

edited: 01.08.2022

Nesophontes hypomicrus Miller

Atalaye Nesophontes (Nesophontes hypomicrus 

The Atalaye Nesophontes was described in 1929 on the basis of subfossil bones that were found on the island of Hispaniola and on the small offshore Île de la Gonâve.  

The species disappeared at about 1175 to 1295 A.D. or probably even later, since some of its remains were found together with bones of rats (Rattus spp.) which were introduced to the Caribbean by Europeans only in the 15th century.  

*********************  

References:  

[1] Gary S. Morgan; Charles A. Woods: Extinction and the zoogeography of West Indian land mammals. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 28(1-2): 167-203. 1986 
[2] R. D. E. MacPhee; Clare Flemming; Darrin P. Lunde: “Last occurrence” of the Antillean insectivoran Nesophontes: new radiometric dates and their interpretation. American Museum Novitates 3261: 1-20. 1999 
[3] Donald A. McFarlane; Abel Vale; Keith Christenson; Joyce Lundberg; Gabriel Atilles; Stein-Erik Lauritzen: New Specimens of Late Quaternary Extinct Mammals from Caves in Sanchez Ramirez Province, Dominican Republic. Caribbean Journal of Science 36: 163-166. 2000

*********************

edited: 13.09.2020

Leiocephalus anonymous Pregill

St. Michel Curly-tailed Lizard (Leiocephalus anonymus)   

The St. Michel Curly-tailed Lizard was described in 1984 based on subfossil bones that had been collected already 50 years prior from the deposits of an unspecified cave (or from more than one cave, it is not known) near Saint-Michel-de-l’Attalaye in the Département Artibonite in the western part of Haiti.  

In life, the species must have reached a size of about 25 cm (including the tail). [1][2]  

***  

It is not known if this species survived into post-European times (after 1492), it is, however, quite likely. [1]  

*********************  

References:  

[1] Gregory Pregill: An extinct species of Leiocephalus from Haiti (Sauria: Iguanidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(4): 827-833. 1984 
[2] Gregory K. Pregill: Systematics of the West Indian Lizard Genus Leiocephalus (Squamata: Iguania: Tropiduridae). Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 84: 1-69. 1992  

*********************


right lower jaw  

Depiction from: ‘Gregory Pregill: An extinct species of Leiocephalus from Haiti (Sauria: Iguanidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(4): 827-833. 1984’  

(unter creative commons Lizenz (3.0)) 
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

*********************

edited: 08.09.2019

Isolobodon portoricensis Allen

Puerto Rican Hutia (Isolobodon portoricensis 

The Puerto Rican Hutia was described on the basis of remains found in aboriginal midden remains on the island of Puerto Rico.  

The species, however, was actually native only to the island of Hispaniola, perhaps including some small offshore islands, this is known from fossil remains that were found at sites without anthropogenic relations  

The Puerto Rican Hutia was imported by the natives to other islands for nutrition purposes, and indeed all bone remains of this species found outside the island of Hispaniola were found in the litter of former natives settlements.  

The species disappeared at around 1280 to 1425 A.D..  

*********************  

References:  

[1] Storrs L. Olson: Fossil Vertebrates from the Bahamas. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 48. 1982 
[2] Clare Flemming; R. D. E. MacPhee: Redetermination of holotype of Isolobodon portoricensis (Rodentia, Capromyidae), with notes on recent mammalian extinctions in Puerto Rico. American Museum Novitates 3278: 1-11. 1999 
[3] Donald A. McFarlane; Abel Vale; Keith Christenson; Joyce Lundberg; Gabriel Atilles; Stein-Erik Lauritzen: New specimens of Late Quaternary extinct mammals from caves in Sanchez Ramirez Province, Dominican Republic. Caribbean Journal of Science 36: 163-166. 2000  

*********************    

cranium

Photo from: ‘Gerrit S. Miller, Jr.: Bones of mammals from Indian sites in Cuba and Santo Domingo. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 66(12): 1-10. 1916’ 

(public domain)

********************

edited: 06.09.2019