The Speculist: Odd Critter


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Odd Critter

It isn't just new species of insects and bacteria that are being discovered. Every once in a while we get something like this:

New Species of Mammal

A new species of mammal has been discovered in the mountains of Tanzania, scientists report.

The bizarre-looking creature, dubbed Rhynochocyon udzungwensis, is a type of giant elephant shrew, or sengi.
The cat-sized animal, which is reported in the Journal of Zoology, looks like a cross between a miniature antelope and a small anteater.

It has a grey face, a long, flexible snout, a bulky, amber body, a jet-black rump and it stands on spindly legs.

The story goes on to tell that these creatures are called shrews because their smaller cousins were thought to resemble shrews when first discovered. Personally,I don't think they look like much of anything.


A little aardvarkish, I suppose. But only a little. Anyway, these creatures are more closely related to elephants and rhinos (and, it turns out upon further reading, aardvarks) than they are shrews. The story concludes:

Tanzania's Udzungwa Mountains are biodiverse-rich. In addition to this new species, a number of other new animals have been found there, including the Udzungwa partridge, the Phillips' Congo shrew, and a new genus of monkey known as Kipunji as well as several reptiles and amphibians.

Dr Rathbun [who discovered the new species] said it was vital the area and its inhabitants in this biodiversity "hotspot" were protected.

Hera, hear. Let's hope there are many more such finds to be made.

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