The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Pigmy Woodrat, Neotoma goldmani, Its Distribution and Systematic Position

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Pigmy Woodrat, Neotoma goldmani, Its Distribution and Systematic Position

Author: Dennis G. Rainey

Rollin H. Baker

Release date: January 22, 2010 [eBook #31040]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Curnow, Joseph Cooper and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


University of Kansas Publications
Museum of Natural History

Volume 7, No. 15, pp. 619-624, 2 figs. in text
June 10, 1955

The Pigmy Woodrat, Neotoma goldmani,
Its Distribution and Systematic Position


University of Kansas

University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History

Editors: E. Raymond Hall, Chairman, A. Byron Leonard,
Robert W. Wilson

Vol. 7, No. 15, pp. 619-624
Published June 10, 1955

University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas



[Pg 621]

The Pigmy Woodrat, Neotoma goldmani,
Its Distribution and Systematic Position


Dennis G. Rainey and Rollin H. Baker

The pigmy woodrat, Neotoma goldmani Merriam, the smallest known member of the genus, inhabits rocky areas in the elevated desert regions of the northern part of the Mexican Plateau (Mesa del Norte). Goldman (N. Amer. Fauna, 31:82, October 10, 1910) had for study ten specimens from two localities in Coahuila. Since his report, Dalquest (Louisiana State Univ. Studies, Biol. Sci. Ser. No. 1:162, December 28, 1953) extended the known distribution of this species approximately 225 miles southward into San Luis Potosí, where he reported animals from five localities. Field workers from the Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas recently have taken goldmani in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí, and now we can define, with greater accuracy, the geographic range of this species (see fig. 1 and list of specimens examined).

Goldman (loc. cit.), relying chiefly on external appearance, placed goldmani in the desertorum group, now known as the lepida group (Goldman, Jour. Mamm., 13:67, February 9, 1932). Blossom (Occ. Papers Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan, 315:3, May 29, 1935) thought that goldmani might be a subspecies of lepida but that intergradation between the two had not been demonstrated. Our newly acquired material, instead of confirming the opinions of Goldman and Blossom, shows that goldmani is more closely related to Neotoma albigula.

Externally goldmani resembles Neotoma lepida (examples from California, Utah, and Colorado) in having long, silky pelage; ochraceous buffy coloring, especially along sides; and underparts basally plumbeous except for a small throat patch where the hairs are entirely white in some individuals. In albigula this patch of white hairs usually is much larger and more conspicuous. Cranially, instead of resembling the lepida group (including Neotoma stephensi), goldmani looks more nearly like a miniature albigula (specimens of albigula from Coahuila). The auditory bullae, in relation to the length of the skull, are of comparable size in goldmani [Pg 622] and albigula whereas those of the lepida group are proportionately much larger. Moreover, the posterior margin of the palatal bridge is concave in goldmani and albigula instead of truncate as in the lepida group. Neotoma goldmani differs from both albigula and lepida in: ascending branches of premaxillaries broader posteriorly; supraorbital ridges less pronounced; rostrum less massive; interparietal broader in relation to width of cranium; interorbital space, relative to length of skull, wider; and upper molar teeth broader in relation to their length.

FIG 1. Figure 1. Distribution of the pigmy woodrat, Neotoma goldmani. Solid circles represent specimens examined; hollow circles represent others reported but not examined.

[Pg 623] The baculum of goldmani, when compared with bacula and with figures of these bones in Burt and Barkalow (Jour. Mamm., 23:291 and 293, August 13, 1942) of species representing the floridana, lepida, albigula, mexicana, fuscipes, and cinerea groups, was found to resemble most closely the baculum of albigula in general proportions (ratio of length to lateral diameter of base) and in having a distinct knob at the distal end. The baculum of goldmani differs slightly from that of albigula in having a less downwardly curved shaft and in having a less pronounced median dorsal depression at the proximal end. Although goldmani bears some external resemblance to lepida, the cranial characters mentioned above and the size and shape of the baculum show that goldmani is best arranged as a member of the albigula group.

FIG 2. Figure 2. Dorsal, end (proximal), and lateral views of the baculum of Neotoma goldmani, adult, No. 40758 KU, × 5.

Measurements (in millimeters) of the mature baculum (fig. 2, No. 40758 KU) are: total length, 6.2; lateral diameter of base, 2.6; dorso-ventral diameter of base, 1.4; lateral diameter of the shaft near the middle of the bone, 0.6. Except for being smaller, the bacula of the younger goldmani are like the mature ones.

Assistance with field work is acknowledged from the Kansas University Endowment Association and the National Science Foundation. The figures were drawn by Victor Hogg. Bacula were prepared for study following the method outlined by White (Jour. Mamm., 32:125, February 15, 1951).

Specimens examined.—Total, 15, all in the Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas. Localities within any one state are arranged from north to south. Chihuahua: Sierra Almagre, 6000 ft., 12 mi. S Jaco, 1. Coahuila: 17 mi. N and 8 mi. W Saltillo, 5200 ft., 2; 3 mi. SE Torreón, 3800 ft., 7. Durango: 1 mi. SSE Mapimí, 4100 ft., 1; 4 mi. WSW Lerdo, 3800 ft., [Pg 624] 1; 5 mi. SE Lerdo, 3800 ft., 1. Zacatecas: Conception del Oro, 7680 ft., 1. San Luis Potosí: 10 mi. NE San Luis Potosí, 6000 ft., 1.

Other records.Coahuila: Jaral; Saltillo (Goldman, 1910:82). San Luis Potosí: Cerro Peñon Blanco; Ventura; Santa Teresa; city of San Luis Potosí (Dalquest, loc. cit.).

Transmitted February 8, 1955.