New, smaller species of elephant shrew discovered in Africa

By Jennifer Pilgrim,

A new species of shrew, also known as a round-eared sengi, has been discovered in the Namib desert in Africa. Now dubbed Macroscelides micus, it is the smallest member of the scientific order Macroscelidea. This order now includes 19 known sengis, and like others, this creature is prominently known for its tiny, trunk-like snout.

Although it looks much like a mouse, scientists say that its genetic makeup makes it much more related to the elephant. "It turns out this thing, that looks and acts like shrews that evolved in Africa, is more closely related to elephants," said John Dumbacher, a curator of birds and mammals at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in a statement to the Huffington Post. "Once we got back to the field and saw several live individuals, it was clear that they differed from M. flavicaudatus in many ways, and that this wasn't just an 'odd' individual."

The new little creature is smaller than any other sengi on record, and is just 7.5 inches from nose-tip to tail-tip. Its fur is a deeper red, and its skin is lighter, which is more noticeable in its ears and feet.

Further research and trips back to the area revealed that these new species live throughout an ancient volcanic region of roughly 136 miles long and 62 miles wide on the Namib desert, reports Fox News.

Biologists and scientists plan to return to Africa in the upcoming months to learn more about the habits of the new shrew, as well as determine if there are more sub-species living throughout the area.



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