, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 815-836

Penile Morphology and Classification of Bush Babies (Subfamily Galagoninae)

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The penile morphologies of nocturnal prosimians are complex and vary considerably between genera and species. Accordingly, comparative morphology can be useful in taxonomic studies, particularly when assessing the status of newly discovered species. I measured features of penile morphology—surface area of the glans penis; shape and size of the keratinized spines on the glans—for populations representing 14 species within the subfamily Galagoninae. Intraspecific variations in penile morphology were relatively minor. By contrast, there are significant differences in several morphological features among closely related, sympatric species, e.g., in the greater bush babies (Otolemur crassicaudatus and O. garnettii) and lesser bush babies (Galago senegalensis and Galago moholi). Assessment of glans area resulted in the recognition of a second needle-clawed form: Euoticus pallidus. Similar divisions exist in the dwarf and greater bush babies with respect to proportional spiny area and characteristics of spine size. I constructed a key based on the presence/absence of certain features—penile spines, dermal markings on the glans, penile lappets—as well as the shape of the baculum and possession of different spinal morphotypes. This key may be used to identify all 14 species of bush babies. Penile morphologies provide a useful guide to specific identity in the Galagoninae, which may be true also for other groups of nocturnal mammals.