The Chinese long-tailed mole (Scaptonyx fusicaudus) closely resembles American (Neurotrichus gibbsii) and Japanese (Dymecodon pilirostris and Urotrichus talpoides) shrew moles in size, appearance, and ecological habits, yet it has traditionally been classified either together with (viz subfamily Urotrichinae) or separately (tribe Scaptonychini) from the latter genera (tribe Urotrichini sensu lato). We explored the merit of these competing hypotheses by comparing the differentially stained karyotypes of S. fusicaudus and N. gibbsii with those previously reported for both Japanese taxa. With few exceptions, diploid chromosome number (2n = 34), fundamental autosomal number (FNa = 64), relative size, and G-banding pattern of S. fusicaudus were indistinguishable from those of D. pilirostris and U. talpoides. In fact, only chromosome 15 differed significantly between these species, being acrocentric in D. pilirostris, subtelocentric in U. talpoides, and metacentric in S. fusicaudus. This striking similarity is difficult to envisage except in light of a shared common ancestry, and is indicative of an exceptionally low rate of chromosomal evolution among these genera. Conversely, the karyotype of N. gibbsii deviates markedly in diploid chromosome and fundamental autosomal number (2n = 38 and FNa = 72, respectively), morphology, and G-banding pattern from those of Scaptonyx and the Japanese shrew moles. These differences cannot be explained by simple chromosomal rearrangements, and suggest that rapid chromosomal reorganization occurred in the karyotype evolution of this species, possibly due to founder or bottleneck events.
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