Feeds

Shrew'd boffins spot TINY ELEPHANT species

Mini-Dumbo critter certainly looks the part

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Take a look at this critter. No, it's not a mouse, it's not a rodent at all ... This creature is more closely related to an elephant than a shrew.

Photo of the mouse

Boffins from California Academy of Sciences have found a new, round-eared species of elephant shrew, which are known colloquially as a sengi. The newly discovered creature has a long snout rather like that of a pachyderm.

The researchers were shocked to find a unfamiliar species of round-eared creature while rooting through the university's archives.

Between 2005 and 2011, the team went to visit the wee mammal's home in northwestern Namibia and managed to snare a further 16 examples of the beast, which is called Macroscelides micus and is totally monogamous throughout its life.

“Had our colleagues not collected those first invaluable specimens, we would never have realized that this was in fact a new species, since the differences between this and all other known species are very subtle,” said Dr Jack Dumbacher, the Academy’s Curator of Ornithology and Mammalogy.

“Several museum collections were instrumental in determining that what we had was truly new to science, highlighting the value of collections for this type of work. Genetically, Macroscelides micus is very different from other members of the genus and it’s exciting to think that there are still areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored.”

The sengis are only found in Africa and are actually more closely related to elephants, sea cows and aardvarks than they are the sort of shrews you would expect to see in a British field. They live on the inland edge of the Namib Desert at the base of the Etendeka Plateau, where they may have remained undiscovered due to the sheer difficulty of getting scientists on the ground.

“With only about a dozen new species of mammal discovered in the wild each year, it is amazing that the Academy has been involved in describing three new sengis in the last decade,” said Galen Rathbun, an authority on the biology of sengis and an Academy Fellow and Research Associate. “There are new and exciting insights into biodiversity awaiting discovery, even in a group as familiar as mammals.”

A study detailing the brand new sengi species was published in the Journal of Mammology. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.