Today’s mongoose post will be about a selection of very poorly-understood mongooses, who are rare and mysterious, like mew.
The four are: the liberian mongoose (Liberiictis kuhni), Sellous’ mongoose (Paracynictis selousi), Meller’s mongoose (Rhynchogale melleri), and Pousargue’s mongoose (Dologale dybowskii).
As I said, relatively little is known about them so there’s not that much to say. Of some of them, there are no pictures, so we make do with what we have. Most of them are thought to be mainly or partly nocturnal (which sounds rather like an excuse to me), and the general impression is that they mainly eat insects – especially the liberian mongoose shown below, which has a distinctly shrew-like appearance. Generally they’re quite solitary and inhabit a variety of habitats, with a skew towards woodlands and other places where it’s hard for pokemon trainers scientists to find them.
They are all African – their ranges are, respectively, in the far west (around Liberia, obv.), the south-west (Angola type area), the south-east (around Tanzania) and the east-of-centre (at the boundary of Sudan, Congo, and Uganda). Indeed, all the mongooses discussed so far have been African. That relates to the structure of the family. There are 14 genera (plural of ‘genus’), and only one of them (Herpestes) has Asian members – but that genus is also the largest (with 12 species in it) and one of the most successful. So I’ve been mopping up the little genera with their one or two species, before getting to the really beefy one.
This reflects a general trend: Africa (as well as South America and Australasia) is a continent with lots of “evolutionary detritus”. Lines of descent that have mainly died out often have a few representatives in Africa. The northern continents, on the other hand, are much more dominated by a smaller number of very successful lines of descent – for example, dogs have replaced hyaenas everywhere except Africa, and the family giraffidae (giraffes and okapis), which previously was much larger, now has representatives only in Africa.