EUROPEAN HEDGEHOG Erinaceus europaeus. Content Updated: 14th August 2014. When people think of British wildlife, hedgehogs are usually pretty high on their list of ...
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Finally, it is briefly worth mentioning the tangled taxonomics of the Eastern hedgehog ( E. concolor ); various authors have argued either that it is a distinct species, or that it is a subspecies of E . europaeus . In his Mammals of the Palaearctic (published ten years before his hedgehog taxonomy review), Gordon Corbet listed 40 ‘forms’ of Erinaceus europaeus , classifiable into nine probable subspecies; among these subspecies was E. europaeus concolor ( concolor being Latin for 'of uniform colour'). The results of a chromosome analysis, however, presented as a short paper to the journal Nature in April 1967 by biologists at the Pathologisches Institut der Universität Bonn in Germany, was the first genetic evidence -- of which I am aware -- to suggest that Eastern and Western hedgehogs were different species. Subsequent to the this Nature paper, in 1978 Nils Mandahl presented data that not only supported the species split, but showed that the karyotype (basically an organized profile of an organism’s chromosomes) of the Eastern and Western hedgehogs can be divided into two and three “races”, respectively. Mandahl’s subjects included two Western animals collected from southern England, both of which showed a karyotype distinct from his other samples (collected from Germany, Poland and Scandinavia); he named this karyotype WIII. Subsequent analysis of the bone marrow from a hedgehog caught by a trap in Aberdeen (UK) by Jeremy Searle and I. Erskine concluded that the karyotype was most readily classified as WIII, suggesting this race may be widespread in Britain.
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