Malpaisomys insularis Hutterer, Lopez-Martinez & Michaux, 1988

Canarian lava fields mouse, Lava mouse



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status


Last record: Late 1300's


A small species of mouse formerly endemic to the Canary Islands. It is presumed to have been driven extinct by the colonization of man, who brought rats (and presumably disease) to the islands.



Fuerteventura, Canary Islands (eastern), off North Africa


Biology & Ecology




"Holotype in the Department of Palaeontology, Universidad Complutense, Madrid (CV-188.1). Paratypes were distributed to AMNH, BMNH, CM, FMNH, SMF, and many other collections."

(Hutterer & Peters, 2010:19)


"Paratypes. ZFMK, yet uncounted and uncatalogued mandibles, maxillaries, and skeletal elements; all from type level CV-A1 at locality Cueva Villaverde near La Oliva (22°38’N, 10°12’30’’W), Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain; age 1070 + 50 BP. "

(Hutterer & Peters, 2010:19)






Original scientific description:

Hutterer, R., López-Martínez, N. and Michaux, J. (1988). A new rodent from Quaternary deposits of the Canary Islands and its relationships with Neogene and Recent murids of Europe and Africa. Palaeovertebrata 18: 241-262.


Other references:

Boye, P.; Hutterer, R.; López-Martínez, N. & Michaux, Jacques. (1992). A reconstruction of the Lava mouse (Malpaisomys insularis), an extinct rodent of the Canary Islands. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 57(1): 29-38. [Abstract]

Castillo, C. et al. (2001). Small vertebrate taphonomy of La Cueva del Llano, a volcanic cave on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain). Palaeoecological implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 166(3-4): 277-291. [Abstract]

Denys C, Taylor PJ, Burgin CJ, Aplin KP, Fabre P-H, Haslauer R, Woinarski JCZ, Breed WG, Menzies JI. (2017). Species accounts of Muridae, pp. 598-884. In: Wilson, D. E., Lacher, T. E. and Mittermeier, R. A. (eds.). Handbook of the mammals of the world. 7. Rodents II, Handbook of Mammals of the World. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Firmat C, Gomes Rodrigues H, Hutterer R, Rando JC, Alcover JA, Michaux J. (2011). Diet of the extinct Lava mouse Malpaisomys insularis from the Canary Islands: insights from dental microwear. Naturwissenschaften 98(1): 33-7. [Abstract]

Freudenthal, M. and Martín-Suárez, E. (2013). Estimating body mass of fossil rodents. Scripta Geologica 145: 1-130. [0.040 kg estimate]

Hutterer, Rainer and Peters, Gustav. (2010). Type specimens of mammals (Mammalia) in the collections of the Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Bonn. Bonn zoological Bulletin 59: 3-27.

Michaux, Jacques. (2008). The Mouse, Endemic Rodents and Human Settlement in the Canary Islands. Diogenes 55(2): 65-75. [Abstract]

Michaux, J., R. Hutterer, and N. Lopez-Martinez. (1991). New fossil faunas from Fuerteventura, Canary Islands: Evidence for a Pleistocene age of endemic rodents and shrews. Comptes Rendus de l'Acadèmie des Sciences, Paris, ser. 2, 312(6):801-806.

Montgelard, Claudine. (1992). Albumin preservation in fossil bones and systematics of Malpaisomys insularis (Muridae, Rodentia), an extinct rodent of the Canary Islands. Historical Biology 6: 293-302. [Abstract]

Pagès, M., Chevret, P., Gros-Balthazard, M., Hughes, S., Alcover, J. A. et al. (2012). Paleogenetic Analyses Reveal Unsuspected Phylogenetic Affinities between Mice and the Extinct Malpaisomys insularis, an Endemic Rodent of the Canaries. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31123. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031123

Rando, Juan Carlos; Alcover, Josep Antoni; Navarro, Juan Francisco; Garcia-Talavera, Francisco; Hutterer, Rainer and Michaux, Jacques. (2008). Chronology and causes of the extinction of the Lava Mouse Malpaisomys insularis (Rodentia: Muridea) from the Canary Islands. Quaternary Research 70(2): 141-8. [Abstract]

Rando, Juan Carlos; Alcover, Josep Antoni; Michaux, Jacques; Hutterer, Rainer and Navarro, Juan Francisco. (2012). Late-Holocene asynchronous extinction of endemic mammals on the eastern Canary Islands. The Holocene 22: 801-808. [Abstract]

Renaud, Sabrina and Michaux, Jacques. (2004). Parallel evolution in molar outline of murine rodents: the case of the extinct Malpaisomys insularis (Eastern Canary Islands). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 142(4): 555-572. [Abstract]

Renom, Pere et al. (2021). Genetic data from the extinct giant rat from Tenerife (Canary Islands) points to a recent divergence from mainland relatives. Biol. Lett. 17: 20210533.

Turvey, Samuel T. (2009). Holocene mammal extinctions, pp. 41-61. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.

Turvey, Samuel T. and Fritz, Susanne A. (2011). The ghosts of mammals past: biological and geographical patterns of global mammalian extinction across the Holocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366(1577): 2564-2576. [Supplementary Information]

Wilson, D.E. & Reeder, D.M. 2005 Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.


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