Taxonomy of the Genus Perodicticus

David Paul Stump

PhD Thesis 2005

The specific and subspecific taxonomies of African primate populations such as Cheirogaleus and the Galagidae have been challenged in recent years, and it has been suggested that the taxonomy of another group, Perodicticus, may not adequately reflect the diversity of its members either. Taxonomies are an organizational framework used by researchers conducting comparative studies and their completeness and accuracy is important for evolution and systematics.

A representative sample (N=132) of specimens allocated to Perodicticus, representing the entire known geographic range of the genus, were examined and described by dentition, cranium, post-cranium, and pelage. Measurements were taken with sliding calipers and tape and non-metric descriptions are supported by photographs. The descriptions (observed values) were then compared to summaries of distinguishing and diagnostic descriptive traits received from previous taxonomies (expected values). Specimens were found which were highly congruent with traditional descriptions of the taxa Perodicticus potto edwards, Perodicticus potto ibeanus, and Perodicticus potto potto. A single specimen was found that matches the expected description for Perodicticus potto faustus, which is not taken as support for reviving that taxon out of its synonymy with Perodicticus potto edwards. Specimens were found which partially resemble the descriptions for Perodicticus potto ju-ju and have been tentatively identified as such. Previously undescribed features present in the population assigned to the genus Perodicticus have also been found, including a bowed fin on the mesial margin of the lower (caniniform) anterior premolar in most of the specimens conforming to the descriptions for P. p. juju and  P. p. potto.