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Taxonomic History & Nomenclature
- Otter is derived from Old English and Indo European root words that also gave rise to English word for water.
- Synonyms (English)
- Spot-necked otter
- Spotted-necked otter
- Speckle-throated otter
Scientific name (Borror 1960)
- Hydro is the Ancient Greek word for water
- maculicollis comes from the Latin macula that means "spotted" and collis meaning "neck"
Local names: Fisi maji or "water hyaena" in Swahili; inTini for the Zulu. (Larivière 2002).
Classification of mustelids
Based on recent genetic studies:
- Wozencraft (2005) and ITIS (2010) recognize only two subfamilies of mustelids, one with otters, the second with all other mustelids.
- Fulton & Strobeck (2006), Sato et al (2004) and Koepfi et al (2008) all propose eight subfamilies of mustelids, with otters as one subfamily.
Spot-necked otters often assigned to genus Lutra, but Wozencraft (2005), Kopfi & Wayne (1998), and Koepfi et al (2008) prefer to place them in the genus Hydrictis.
- Earliest fossils of the mustelid family found in Eurasia, dating to around 26 million years ago. (Late Oligocene). (Koepfli et al 2008)
- Lutrine otters diverged from other mustelids about 20-25 million years ago. (Koepfli and Wayne 1998)
- Mionictis, an early otter genus, lived in North America around 15-20 million years ago. (Baskin 1998) (Koepfli and Wayne 1998)
- New World river otters belong to a separate genus, Lontra; they descend from otters that migrated across the Bering Strait during Late Miocene times, 11.5 to 5.3 million years ago (Middle Miocene). (Koepfli et al 2008)
- Lutra affins from Europe dates to around 5 million years ago (Early Pliocene). (Koepfli et al 2008)
- Otters in South America descend from immigrants from North America that crossed the Isthmus of Panama when it connected North and South America sometime shortly before 3.0-2.5 million years ago. (Koepfi et al 2008)
- Spot-necked otter (Hydrictis maculicolis) originally colonized Africa from Eurasia, but its exact relationship to other Lutra species is still somewhat unclear. (Koepfli & Wayne 1998) (Kruuk 2006)
Evolutionary relationships among modern otters
- Modern otters divide into three primary clades according to mitochondrial genetic studies: (Koepfli and Wayne 1998)
- North American river, neotropical, and marine otters
- Sea, Eurasian, spot-necked, Cape clawless, and small-clawed otters
- Giant otters
Family: Mustelidae (martens)
Subfamily: Mustelinae (weasels, martens, minks,badgers, honey badger)
Species: Hydrictis maculicollis (spot-necked otter)
Describer (Date): Lichenstein (1835)
Fulton & Strobeck (2006)
Koepfli et al (2008)
Koepfli & Wayne (1998)
Sato et al (2004)
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