Skip to main content


Log in

A new species of small-eared shrew in the Cryptotis thomasi species group from Costa Rica (Mammalia: Eulipotyphla: Soricidae)

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Mammal Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


We describe a new species of small-eared shrew, genus Cryptotis Pomel, 1848 (Eulipotyphla: Soricidae), from near the community of Monteverde in the Tilarán highlands of northwestern Costa Rica. The new species is immediately distinguished from all other Costa Rican shrews its large size and long tail. Morphologically, it belongs to the Cryptotis thomasi group of small-eared shrews, a clade that is more typically distributed in the Andes Cordillera and other highland regions of northern South America. The new Costa Rican species and the Panamanian endemic Cryptotis endersi Setzer, 1950 are the only two members of this species group known to occur in Central America. Like most other members of the C. thomasi group for which the postcranial skeleton has been studied, the new species tends be more ambulatory (rather than semi-fossorial) when compared with other members of the genus. Our survey efforts over several decades failed to locate a population of the new species, and we discuss its conservation status in light of its limited potential distribution in the Tilarán highlands and the significant climatic change that has been documented in the Monteverde region during the past four decades.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Allen JA (1895) Descriptions of new American mammals. Bull Am Mus Nat Hist 7:327–340

    Google Scholar 

  • Anderson RP, Timm RM (2006) A new species of spiny pocket mouse (Rodentia: Heteromyidae: Heteromys) from northwestern Costa Rica. Am Mus Novit 3509:1–38

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bühler P (1964) Zur Gattungs–und Artbestimmung von Neomys–Schädeln–gleichzeitig eine Einführung in die Methodik der optimalen Trennung zweier systematischer Einheiten mit Hilfe mehrerer Merkmale. Z Säugetierkd 29:65–93

    Google Scholar 

  • Choate JR (1970) Systematics and zoogeography of Middle American shrews of the genus Cryptotis. Univ Kans Publ Mus Nat Hist 19:195–317

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark KL, Lawton RO, Butler PR (2000) The physical environment. In: Nadkarni NM, Wheelwright NT (eds) Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 15–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Fischer G (1814) Zoognosia tabulis synopticis illustrata. Volumen tertium. Nicolai Sergeidis Vsevolozsky, Mosquae

    Google Scholar 

  • Guevara L, Cervantes FA (2014) Molecular systematics of small-eared shrews (Soricomorpha, Mammalia) within Cryptotis mexicanus species group from Mesoamérica. Acta Theriol 59:233–242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haber WA (2000) Plants and vegetation. In: Nadkarni NM, Wheelwright NT (eds) Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 39–94

    Google Scholar 

  • He K, Woodman N, Boaglio S, Roberts M, Supekar S, Maldonado JE (2015) Molecular phylogeny supports repeated adaptation to burrowing within small-eared shrews genus of Cryptotis (Eulipotyphla, Soricidae). PLoS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140280 21 October 2015, 13 pp

    Google Scholar 

  • Holdridge LR (1947) Determination of world plant formations from simple climatic data. Science 105:367–368

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • LaVal RK (2004) Impact of global warming and locally changing climate on tropical cloud forest bats. J Mammal 85:237–244

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • LaVal RK, Timm RM (2014) Apéndice 11: Mamíferos de Monteverde—2014. In: Wheelwright NT, Nadkarni NM (eds) Monteverde: Ecología y Conservación de un Bosque Nuboso Tropical. Bowdoin Scholars’ Bookshelf, Brunswick, Maine, Book 3, pp 853–863. Accessed 5 August 2016

  • LaVal RK, Lawton RO, Timm RM (2016) The effect of environmental variables on nightly activity patterns of insectivorous bats monitored over ten years in a tropical premontane forest, Costa Rica. KU ScholarWorks, Lawrence []

    Google Scholar 

  • McDowell SB Jr (1958) The Greater Antillean insectivores. Bull Am Mus Nat Hist 115:113–214

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller GS Jr (1911) Three new shrews of the genus Cryptotis. Proc Biol Soc Wash 24:221–223

    Google Scholar 

  • Moreno CPA, Albuja VL (2014) Una nueva especie de musaraña del género Cryptotis Pomel 1848 (Mammalia: Soricomorpha: Soricidae) de Ecuador y estatus taxonomico de Cryptotis equatoris Thomas 1912. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 54:403–418

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nadkarni NM, Wheelwright NT (eds) (2000) Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Pine RH, Woodman N, Timm RM (2002) Rediscovery of Enders’s small-eared shrew, Cryptotis endersi (Insectivora: Soricidae), with a redescription of the species. Mamm Biol 67:372–377

    Google Scholar 

  • Pomel A (1848) Etudes sur les carnassiers insectivores (Extrait). Seconde partie.—Classification des insectivores. Arch Sci Phys Nat Genève 9:244–251

    Google Scholar 

  • Pounds JA, Fogden MPL, Campbell JH (1999) Biological response to climate change on a tropical mountain. Nature 398:611–615

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Quiroga-Carmona M (2013) Una nueva especie de musaraña del género Cryptotis (Soricomorpha: Soricidae) de la Serranía del Litoral en el norte de Venezuela. Mastozoología Neotropical 20:123–137

    Google Scholar 

  • Quiroga-Carmona M, Molinari J (2012) Description of a new species of the genus Cryptotis (Mammalia: Soricomorpha: Soricidae) from the Sierra de Aroa, an isolated mountain range in northwestern Venezuela, with remarks on biogeography and conservation. Zootaxa 3441:1–20

    Google Scholar 

  • Quiroga-Carmona M, Woodman N (2015) A new species of Cryptotis (Mammalia, Eulipotyphla, Soricidae) from the Sierra de Perijá, Colombia–Venezuela Andes. J Mammal 96:800–809

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reed CA (1951) Locomotion and appendicular anatomy in three soricoid insectivores. Am Midl Nat 45:513–671

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Samuels JX, Van Valkenburgh B (2008) Skeletal indicators of locomotor adaptations in living and extinct rodents. J Morphol 269:1387–1411

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sargis EJ (2002) Functional morphology of the forelimb of tupaiids (Mammalia, Scandentia) and its phylogenetic implications. J Morphol 253:10–42

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Setzer HW (1950) Two new shrews of the genus Cryptotis from Panama. J Wash Acad Sci 40:299–300

    Google Scholar 

  • Timm RM, LaVal RK (2000) Mammals. In: Nadkarni NM, Wheelwright NT (eds) Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 223–244, 553–560

  • Timm RM, LaVal RK (2016) Mammals of Monteverde—2000–2015. In: Wheelwright NT, Nadkarni NM (eds) Monteverde: Ecología y Conservación de un Bosque Nuboso Tropical. Bowdoin Scholars’ Bookshelf, Brunswick, Maine, pp. 341–375, 843–863

  • Woodman N (2000) Cryptotis merriami Choate in Costa Rica: syntopy with Cryptotis nigrescens (Allen) and possible character displacement. Caribb J Sci 36:289–299

    Google Scholar 

  • Woodman N (2015) Morphological variation among broad-clawed shrews (Mammalia: Eulipotyphla: Soricidae: Cryptotis) from highlands of western Honduras, with descriptions of three new cryptic species. Ann Carnegie Museum 83:95–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Woodman N, Gaffney SA (2014) Can they dig it? Functional morphology and degrees of semifossoriality among some American shrews (Mammalia, Soricidae). J Morphol 275:745–759

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Woodman N, Péfaur JE (2008 [2007]) Order Soricomorpha Gregory, 1910. In: Gardner AL (ed) Mammals of South America. Marsupials, xenarthrans, shrews, and bats, volume I. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 177–187

  • Woodman N, Stabile FA (2015) Functional skeletal morphology and its implications for locomotory behavior among three genera of mysoricine shrews (Eulipotyphla: Soricidae). J Morphol 276:550–563

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Woodman N, Timm RM (1993) Intraspecific and interspecific variation in the Cryptotis nigrescens species complex of small-eared shrews (Insectivora: Soricidae), with the description of a new species from Colombia. Fieldiana Zool N Ser 74:1–30

    Google Scholar 

  • Woodman N, Timm RM (1999) Geographic variation and evolutionary relationships among broad-clawed shrews of the Cryptotis goldmani-group (Insectivora: Soricidae). Fieldiana Zool N Ser 91:1–35

    Google Scholar 

  • Woodman N, Cuartas-C CA, Delgado-V CA (2003) The humerus of Cryptotis colombiana and its bearing on the phylogenetic relationships of the species (Soricomorpha: Soricidae). J Mammal 84:832–839

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Woodman N, Matson JO, McCarthy TJ, Eckerlin RP, Bulmer W, Ordóñez-Garza N (2012) Distributional records of shrews (Mammalia, Soricomorpha) from northern Central America, with the first record of Sorex from Honduras. Ann Carnegie Museum 80:207–237

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We are grateful to the late Jerry and Walter James for their commitment to saving smelly dead shrews in the belief that someday someone might find them of biological interest. Richard K. and Margaret L. LaVal greatly assisted our efforts over many years in documenting the amazing fauna of Monteverde. We are grateful to them and to other residents of Monteverde for saving and donating a number of scientifically informative specimens over the years and for their efforts in conserving the natural world around them. We thank the following curators and collection managers for loans or for permission to examine specimens under their care: Robert S. Voss (American Museum of Natural History), Ted Daeschler (Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University), Paula Jenkins (The Natural History Museum), Lawrence R. Heaney and Bruce D. Patterson (Field Museum of Natural History), Jim Dines (Los Angeles County Museum), Jacob A. Esselstyn (Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University), Judith M. Chupasko (Museum of Comparative Zoology), Sharon A. Jansa (James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History), Francisco J. Durán A. (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica), Joseph A. Cook (Museum of Southwestern Biology), Bernal Rodríguez Herrera (Universidad de Costa Rica), and Cody W. Thompson (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology). Deb Bennett assisted with the map used as Fig. 1, and Randall S. Reiserer produced the cranial drawings used as Fig. 2. Alfred L. Gardner and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US government.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Neal Woodman.

Ethics declarations

Ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutions at which the studies were conducted.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they do not have conflict of interest.

Additional information

Communicated by: Jan M. Wójcik



Specimens Examined

C. endersi (n = 2)—PANAMA: Bocas del Toro: Cylindro (ANSP 20955—holotype); Chiriquí/Bocas del Toro; Cerro Bollo (3½ km E Escopeta), 1800–1856 (USNM 54048).

C. gracilis (n = 45)—COSTA RICA: Cartago: Estación El Sitio (KU 160207); 6.5 km ESE of Ojo de Agua, N. slope of Cerro Sákira, 3260 m (USNM 568678); Cerro Asunción, 11,000–11,100 ft (LSU 12641–12650); Cerro de la Muerte, 3335 m (UMMZ 115403); N side summit, Pan American Highway (Cerro de la Muerte) (UMMZ 112000); Parque Nacional Chirripó (USNM 564368). Limón: near base of Pico Blanco (=Cerro Kámuk), head of Río Lari, ca. 6000 ft (USNM12236—holotype); Río Teribe (=Río Tararia), Valle El Silencio, Río Cotón, 8000 ft (USNM 539863). San José: Cerro Chirripó, Headwaters of Río Talari, 11,600 ft (LSU 12657–12664); Cerro de la Muerte, Hotel [La] Georgina, 3100 m (USNM 556131); Villa Mills, Cerro de la Muerte (USNM 569240); Cerro Buena Vista, near Cerro de la Muerte (MSB 28339); Cerro Estaquero, 10,000 ft (LSU 12640); La Piedra, ca. 4 mi SW Cerro Chirripó, 10,500 ft (LSU 12651–12656); Las Vueltas, 8000 ft (UMMZ 62885); San Gerardo de Dota, ca. 2400–2700 m (KU 142690, 142691). PANAMA: Bocas del Toro: Cerro Fabrega, 8400 ft (USNM 539864); 17.5 km NNW of El Volcán, NE of Cerro Pando, 2180 m (USNM 516615, 516616). Chiriquí: Cerro Punta, Boquete Trail, 7600 ft (USNM 322994–322996); 17 km NNW of El Volcán, head of Río Candela, 2000 m (USNM 516617).

C. merriami (n = 2)—COSTA RICA (2): Guanacaste: 4 to 5 km NE of Tilarán (near Finca San Bosco, ca. 19.5 km SE Tilarán, between Quebrada San Bosco and Río Negro) (KU 84365). Puntarenas: Santa Elena, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Sendero Chomogo (MNCR 358).

C. monteverdensis (n = 1)—COSTA RICA: Puntarenas: Monteverde, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, “cloud forest at the continental divide,” ca. 1550 m (KU 134852—holotype).

C. nigrescens (n = 122)—COSTA RICA: Alajuela: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, 870–1840 m (KU 143371, 143377–143381, 159032–159037, 160216, 160217, 160219, 160979, 160980). Puntarenas: Monteverde, 1100–1790 m (FMNH 124101, 128415, 135224; KU 134898, 135008, 135083, 142053, 142054, 142689, 142786–142789, 143295–143297, 143382–143384, 143386–143396, 143496, 143636–143638, 144612, 157587–157594, 157597–157599, 157945, 157946, 157952, 158304–158306, 158631, 158980–158998, 160191–160198, 160218, 160948–160950, +4 uncataloged; LACM 67443, 64840, 67453; MMNH 14095; MNCR 352; UMMZ 115844, 115883, 115884, 117107–117110; USNM 568679, 568680, 570509); San Luis (ca. 2.5 km S Monteverde), 1200 m (KU 143385, 157595).

C. orophilus (n = 25)—COSTA RICA: Alajuela: 2 km oeste de Grecia (UCR 1298); Zarcero, 6000 ft (FMNH 43974). Cartago: Cartago (BMNH,; KU 26932; UMMZ 66465, 67316); Guarco (KU 16563); Coliblanco (KU 26930, 26931); La Estrella de Cartago, 4500 ft (AMNH 14847, UMMZ 64147); Irazu Range (Volcán de Irazú) (AMNH 9640/9558—holotype). Heredia: Paso Llano, San José de la Montaña, 1800 m (KU 142692–142694); San Miguel de la Montaña, 1690–1700 m (KU 143372–143374); San Luis de Santo Domingo de Heredia, 1400 m (KU 143375, 143376). San José: Finca 2, Universidad de Costa Rica “Vargas Araya” campus (UCR 1500); El Muñeco, 10 mi S of Cartago, 3800 ft (UMMZ 67315); San Rafael de Montes de Oca, 4300 ft (KU 147100); Santa Ana (LSU 15753).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Woodman, N., Timm, R.M. A new species of small-eared shrew in the Cryptotis thomasi species group from Costa Rica (Mammalia: Eulipotyphla: Soricidae). Mamm Res 62, 89–101 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: