Old views and new insights: Taxonomic revision of the Bukovina blind mole rat, Spalax graecus (Rodentia: Spalacinae)

Attila Németh, Zalán G. Homonnay, Virág Krízsik, Máté Csorba, Tomáš Pavlíček, Zsolt Hegyeli, Yarin Hadid, Szilárd Sugár, János Farkas, Gábor Csorba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As a result of their rather uniform external appearance and gross cranial morphology, the systematics of blind mole rats has been hotly debated over the last century; however, the separation of the large-bodied and small-bodied blind mole rats at the genus level (Spalax and Nannospalax, respectively), suggested earlier on morphological grounds, is strongly supported by recent molecular biological evidence. The species of Spalax have so far been distinguished from each other by cranial traits only, especially the outline of sutures of the cranium, and the shape and relative size of the nasal and parietal bones. Based on mitochondrial DNA sequences (with the widest taxonomic and geographic coverage so far) and detailed anatomical comparisons of museum specimens, we herewith provide a revision of the taxonomic and phylogenetic status of the westernmost representative of the genus, Spalax graecuss.l. We clarify that antiquus and istricus - presently regarded as synonyms of graecus - are well-defined species, and they together form a separate clade within Spalax. The robustness of our conclusions is supported by the combined evidence of morphology, multilocus phylogeny, species distribution, and taxon history (species congruence with past tectonic and climate events).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-914
Number of pages12
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • antiquus - cytochromeb - istricus - mezosegiensis - molecular phylogeny - morphology - Spalacinae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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