Octodon (Octodontidae) is an endemic genus of rodents that is typical of southwestern South America and represented by 4 species. Octodon pacificus, commonly referred to as the Mocha Island degu, was initially described from specimens collected in 1959 at Mocha Island, a small coastal island located along the central coast of Chile. Fifty-seven years after its original collection, we report the discovery of a female O. pacificus carcass, identified by its morphological characteristics and its specific locality. In addition, based on the cytochrome b (Cytb) gene of the mitochondrial DNA obtained from O. pacificus and other congeneric species, we assessed phylogenetic relationships within the Octodontidae. Bayesian phylogenetic reconstruction indicated that O. degus represented the basal Octodon sp., followed by O. lunatus; O. bridgesii and O. pacificus were identified as sister taxa. Remarkably, the genetic divergence between O. bridgesii and O. pacificus is low, which suggests that 1 of 2 scenarios may be at play: the occurrence of a recent peripatric speciation process in O. pacificus, or the presence of O. bridgesii on Mocha Island. Documented collections of archeozoological material obtained from Mocha Island only include specimens of O. pacificus, a finding that supports our 1st proposed scenario. While the core of Mocha Island is a national reserve, strong anthropogenic landscape modifications have affected the coastal plains—the only known habitat of O. pacificus. Rodent control using killing traps and poison is a common practice on the island; therefore, population surveys and conservation initiatives are needed to conserve this endangered species.
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Vol. 98 • No. 2