Voyta L.L. 2017. Age related cranial characters from the viewpoint of species identification of Amur and Daurian hedgehogs (Lipotyphla: Erinaceidae) // Russian J. Theriol. Vol.16. No.2: 176–184 [in English].
Leonid L. Voyta [firstname.lastname@example.org], Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaya nab. 1, Saint Petersburg 199034, Russia.
ABSTRACT. The current paper represents a summary of age determination attempts in two species of East-Asian hedgehogs — Erinaceus amurensis Schrenk, 1859, and Mesechinus dauuricus (Sundevall, 1842) from Russian (Moscow, Saint Petersburg) and Chinese (Beijing) Museum Collections. The analysed specimens comprise 99 skulls, of which 46 skulls are from Amur hedgehogs, and 53 belonged to Daurian hedgehogs. Our results represent the four relative age stages with detailed descriptions and figures from the viewpoint of an interspecies comparison. We revealed that the size and additive characters of suprameatal fossa are undoubtedly very useful for the identification of adult specimens of both species, but are useless for young specimens due to the similarity of the initial stages of development of the ear region. In addition, the relative height of the frontal and parietal bones (= development of the sagittal ridge and temporal line) cannot be used to correctly compare subadult and adult Amur hedgehogs with adult and senile Daurian hedgehogs, because the latter species acquires a similarity in the skull profile with the former during maturity. The third considered age-related character is fusion of the lacrimal/maxilla suture, which shows some degree of variation in E. amurensis. Thus, all of the characteristics that are generally used for the comparison and identification of East-Asian hedgehogs, beginning with E. amurensis vs. M. dauuricus, require a prior description of their interspecific variability in order to be useful for species identification.
KEY WORDS: Erinaceus amurensis, Mesechinus dauuricus, age variability, species identification, Erinaceinae.