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Why are there no skunks between continents?

March 11, 2013

Why are there no skunks between continents?

This photo of a striped hog-nosed skunk, captured on a mainland peninsula of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument, is the easternmost record of its species in Panama

This photo of a striped hog-nosed skunk, captured on a mainland peninsula of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument, is the easternmost record of its species in Panama. Why there are no hog-nosed skunks reported for the area from the Panama Canal east to the Colombian border remains a mystery.

A look at the skunk's range (see map), shows an area based on observations and museum collections reported in the scientific literature from Mexico to western Panama. These skunks have also been reported from northern South America and from an area around the mouth of the Amazon river.

Why this distribution? “Hard to tell,” said Patrick Jansen, STRI staff scientist and coordinator of camera trapping efforts in Panama, Ecuador, Cameroon and Malaysia, “I suspect they have simply not been reported from eastern Panama by any scientist.”

If you have seen a striped hog-nosed skunk east of the Canal, send a note to STRINews@si.edu.

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