Cryptochloris wintoni 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Afrosoricida Chrysochloridae

Scientific Name: Cryptochloris wintoni
Species Authority: (Broom, 1907)
Common Name(s):
English De Winton's Golden Mole
Taxonomic Notes: Some authors (e.g., Simonetta 1968) treated this taxon as only subspecifically distinct from C. zyli, but these taxa differ consistently in pelage colour and malleus morphology, indicating that they are not conspecific (Meester 1974).  Recent (but still unpublished) phylogenetic analyses based on both morphological and genetic data support the allocation of these taxa to separate species, and justify synonymizing Cryptochloris as a subgenus of Chrysochloris, corroborating the close phylogenetic association of these taxa reported by Asher et al. (2010).

This species is easily confused with Grant’s Golden Mole (Eremitalpa granti). A specimen in the Smithsonian Institution collected near Garies (181 km southeast of the type locality) is a misidentified E. granti. Conversely, several specimens of this taxon in the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard) and Natural History Museum (London) are incorrectly identified as E. granti (Asher and Avery 2010). Although externally similar to E. granti, radiographs make Cryptochloris easy to recognize based on malleus shape, vertebral count, and length of humeral medial epicondyle (Asher and Avery 2010).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered () B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-02-07
Assessor(s): Bronner, G.
Reviewer(s): Asher, R.J. & Taylor, A.

Known from only the type locality, and not recorded for more than 50 years. The existing evidence is that it is a valid species, and occurs in an area of high threat owing to radical habitat transformation by alluvial diamond mining, so it is listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) under criteria B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii), notwithstanding that its cryptic and trap-shy nature may obscure a more common and widespread occurrence.

Date last seen: 1937
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Critically Endangered (CR)
2006 Critically Endangered (CR)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Indeterminate (I)
1990 Indeterminate (I)
1988 Insufficiently Known (K)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to South Africa. Recorded only from the type locality at Port Nolloth, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.
Countries occurrence:
Possibly extinct:
South Africa (Northern Cape Province)
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 8
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 8
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Number of Locations: 1
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Extremely rare; sympatric with E. granti and possibly underestimated due to external resemblance thereto. All of the golden moles in the Namaqualand coastal region are exceptionally difficult to catch, so this species could be more common or widespread than current records indicate.

Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No
No. of subpopulations: 1
All individuals in one subpopulation: Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Occurs on coastal dunes and adjacent sandy areas in Strandveld of the Namaqualand coastal plain (Succulent Karoo biome) of the Northern Cape (Bronner 2013).

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Habitat alteration as a result of mining of coastal sands for alluvial diamonds in the Port Nolloth district may pose a threat to this species (Smithers 1986). The type locality is near Port Nolloth, an important regional harbour that is being expanded to establish more fish processing plants and abalone maricultures, so infrastructural developments with increased human densities can also be considered a possible threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Not recorded from any protected areas. Fieldwork to survey for populations and assess the extent of anthropogenic threats is urgently needed. Research to determine distribution limits and basic ecology is also a priority.

Citation: Bronner, G. 2015. Cryptochloris wintoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T5748A21287143. . Downloaded on 26 November 2015.
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