Identify Popwell's mystery mammal

Welcome to a week of honest-to-goodness 'text-lite' posts. Yeah, I've made promises about going 'text-lite' before, but I've failed to deliver. This time I'm determined to succeed. We begin with these pretty pictures, provided by Greg Popwell and showing a taxiderm specimen of.. of... well, what? Over to you...


As usual with these sorts of things, apologies if this insults your intelligence. The animal is about 18 cm long.

UPDATE: thanks to all who had a go at identifying the animal. It's obviously a rodent, and obviously a squirrel (long bushy tail, pentadactyl hands, forelimbs and hindlimbs similar in length). Several tropical squirrels have short, rounded ears and blackish side stripes, including some of the African ground squirrels (Xerus), Asiatic striped palm squirrels (Funambulus), Asiatic striped squirrels (Tamiops), the Multistriped or Berdmore's palm squirrel Menetes berdmorei, and the Malaysian striped ground squirrels (Lariscus). Of these, the best match is the Multistriped palm squirrel: it's the only one that has a black dorsal stripe, then a buffy stripe, then a very distinct black stripe, and then (furthest ventrally) another buffy stripe. It also matches in size and other details. So, that's what I think it is - well done Dartian and others.

More like this

Is it a Berdmore's palm squirrel Menetes berdmorei?

palm squirrel

By dinosauricon (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink


O.k., I know it's not, but...
Chimaeric sciurid created by grafting some embryonic shipmunk cells onto a gray squirrel embryo

By Allen Hazen (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

The middle section has horizontal stripes and a a grey band of fur that extends lower on the belly. It really looks like it's been cut and paste from another animal.

By Christophe Thill (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

Sciurogorgon, another arboreal dwarf gorgonopsian closely related to the one photographed in the wild... here

By Daniella Perea (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

A maquette from Tim Burton's Alvin and the Chipmunks.

By Kryptos18 (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

A man in an ape costume?

By Anomalocaris (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink


By Loren's buddy (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

This is not a dead animal at all and certainly not a taxiderm specimen.
It's just frozen in time for the moment.
Hibernating but conscious
Taking some time off
To think, to reflect, to invent a new religion
Waiting for acorn walhalla

Hasn't he been seen in a couple of movies? He was having decidedly poor luck chasing after a large acorn? There was something about mammoths and a couple of other animals involved but he was the star.

Stuffed Not-So-Mega Mammal Week? :-)

Xerus was the first thing that came to mind for me, but it seems a bit unbushy in the tail for that even considering its raggedness. Funambulus, and most of the other Eurasian-American striped species tend to have more pronounced facial markings. I still like the African options. Perhaps one of the less colorful Funisciurus? Maybe F. substriatus or F. bayoni?

It's an antelope squirrel!

By Gray Stanback (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

It's obviously a broad-bellied Greenland tiger civet. Either that or a Brazilian narrow-nosed hairy salamander. It's surprisingly easy to confuse those two species.

Judging by the chipmunk-like stripes and the dachshund-like proportions, I can positively identify it as that curious rodent known as the dachsmunk.

By Stevo Darkly (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

I think Dartian nailed it: Berdmore's Palm Squirrel. Good pic in Walker's Mammals of the World.

By Greg Popwell (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink

I believe it is a Hot-Tooth Furry Ice Borer.

Just to be different I'm gonna say it's Lariscus insignis even though Dartian is probably right

The picture of Berdmore's ground squirrel from Walker's Mammals of the World on Google Books. One page after is a picture of Lariscus.

I think it's a piranha squirrel, it has just feasted and that's why it's teeth are all red. Beware packs of piranha squirrels when walking the woods at night.

Thanks to all for having a go at this - my suggested identification now provided in the article above.

Incidentally, Menetes berdmorei is a rodent of many names. It's called "Berdmore's palm squirrel" by Nowak (Walker's Mammals of the World, VI ed, 1999), "Indochinese ground squirrel" by Wilson & Reeder (Mammal Species of the World, III ed, 2005) and "Berdmore's ground squirrel" by Wikipedia.

... but, of course, the best name is Multistriped palm squirrel (my bias is towards names that help with identification, and that name really does help: I looked at the specimen above, noted that it was multi-striped, and immediately thought - ah, a Multistriped palm squirrel).

...and while I was composing my previous message, Darren provided a fourth vernacular name for this squirrel...

Do you have any locality information? I thought maybe that might have been your next hint.

It's a Randolph's False Squirrel, one of the last of the Docodonts other than the Unicornidae to survive to modern times. Member of the order Theodoridae, the animals were known for making ultrasonic giggling noises, especially when tickled. It was the sole species of a once more numerous mammalian group and was last reported in the wild in 1963. More current sightings are considered more likely true squirrels.

Thanks for help with the ID. Cool, a monotypic species.

By Greg Popwell (not verified) on 15 Apr 2009 #permalink

order Theodoridae

Ending in -idae, it's automatically a family. Oh, and, whether docodonts are mammals depends on the definition of Mammalia...

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 15 Apr 2009 #permalink

> one of the last of the Docodonts other than the Unicornidae

Sprawling Unicorns?

> Oh, and, whether docodonts are mammals depends on the
> definition of Mammalia...

Well, if it's extant (as Alan seems to suggest ;-)), it's part of the crown group :-)

With reference to Johannes's comment on David Marjanovic's...
That seems, potentially, to be a problem: defining the "crown group" as the descendants of the last common ancestor of extant representatives makes it a hostage to the survival of its outlying members. Suppose the crown X are composed of a bunch of closely related forms-- the X', call them-- and a few more distantly related ones, the X''. If the distantly related ones are lost, the (perhaps many) fossil species that branched off the X' stem after the divergence of the X'' would be transferred from "crown X" to "stem X."

Possible example: 99.7%, or something like that, of extant mammals are Therians, but there are three species of Monotreme. Because of the Monotremes, a whole bunch of Mesozoic "mammals" (not Docodonts, but perhaps the Multituberculates!) count as crown mammals. Would they cese to be crown mammals if Australian environmental degradation killed off the platypus and the echidnas? Or is there some convention that would prevent that ("For purposes of defining crown groups, "extant" will be understood as extant at the time of publication of the third edition of Linnaeus's Systema," or something like that)?

By Allen Hazen (not verified) on 15 Apr 2009 #permalink

Continuing with the amusement...

Please remember that while our reality has but one type of mammal, others don't necessarily follow our lead. In this case the animals in question are derived docodonts, having evolved a fully erect stance, uterus with placenta, and mammaries and mammary glands. Though modern docodont milk has a higher blood content than therian milk. The modern unicorn -the last surviving docodont group- consists of five species, of which only one actually resembles a horse. The other four are more antelope or deer like, and range in size from rabbit to eland.

Classifying them as mammals owes much to the fact they've been known as mammals from long before scientists learned they weren't mammals. Not if you insist that only the therians can be true mammals. Mammalia being a superorder containing all known mammal orders. Though some would make Mammalia a supraorder consisting of two superorders and a number of subordinate orders in each. Much as Reptilia is now accounted a supraorder consisting of a number of superorders such as turtles and tortoises, lizards and snakes, and the archosaurians.

(In case you're wondering, I do have entirely too much fun with world creation. :) )

I stumbled on your site and thank you for the tips on the identity of this squirrel. After doing research, I can say it is definitely a Berdmore's palm squirrel (Menetes berdmorei). I live in Vietnam and I have one with the exact same markings. This is Wikipedia's info on it: