Description of the Type Specimen of the Extinct Tenerife Giant Rat (Canariomys bravoi)

Investor logo


This publication doesn't include Faculty of Medicine. It includes Faculty of Science. Official publication website can be found on


Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Mammalian Evolution
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Rodentia; Muridae; Insularity; Canary Islands; Systematic paleontology; Cranial anatomy
Description The holotype of the Tenerife (Canary Islands) giant rat, Canariomys bravoi, an almost complete cranium from the Late Pleistocene site of Cueva de las Palomas, is described for the first time. This species is characterized by its large size, robust skull with a short rostrum, dorsal inflation at the level of the infraorbital foramen, and moderately high-crowned upper molars which develop partial stephanodonty at advanced wear stages. Canariomys tamarani from Gran Canaria Island, the only other species of this genus known so far, is slightly smaller and further differs in its higher crowned molars with cusps arranged in a lamellar pattern. However, their crania are remarkedly similar and present a distinctive anatomy of the zygomatic plate, which is very high on the rostrum, so that its dorsal border is nearly on level with the zygomatic process of the maxilla instead of considerably below it as usually seen in murines. This is also observed in other insular, often large-sized, murines but certainly evolved in parallel as an adaptation to herbivory. Molar morphology is congruent with recent analyses of ancient molecular data of C. bravoi which place it in the tribe Arvicanthini (mostly African murines), more concretely within the Arvicanthis niloticus species complex. Even though genetic data indicate that both species diverged very recently, just 650,000 years ago, cranial and dental anatomy of C. bravoi are very derived. Conversely, C. tamarani presents a molar morphology reminiscent of that of A. niloticus albeit associated with a similarly highly derived cranial anatomy.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info