Elephant shrew


Elephant shrew

Taxobox
name = Elephant shrewsMSW3 Schlitter|pages=82-85]
fossil_range = Early Oligocene to Recentcite book |author= Savage, RJG, & Long, MR|year=1986 |title= Mammal Evolution: an illustrated guide|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 54|isbn= 0-8160-1194-X]



image_width = 200px
image_caption = Short-eared Elephant Shrew
"(Macroscelides proboscideus)"
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
infraclassis = Eutheria
superordo = Afrotheria
ordo = Macroscelidea
ordo_authority = Butler, 1956
familia = Macroscelididae
familia_authority = Bonaparte, 1838
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = "Rhynchocyon"
"Petrodromus"
"Macroscelides"
"Elephantulus"

Elephant shrews or jumping shrews are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the Macroscelididae family, in the order Macroscelidea. Their traditional common English name comes from a fancied resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and an assumed relationship with the true shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Insectivora. As it has become plain that the elephant shrews are unrelated to the shrews, the biologist Jonathan Kingdon has proposed that they instead be called sengis [KINGDON, J. (1997). The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, London.] , a term derived from the Bantu languages of Africa.

They are widely distributed across the southern part of Africa, and although common nowhere, can be found in almost any type of habitat, from the Namib Desert to boulder-strewn outcrops in South Africa to thick forest. One species, the North African Elephant Shrew, remains in the semi-arid, mountainous country in the far north-west of the continent.

Characteristics

Elephant shrews vary in size from about 100 mm to almost 300 mm, from just under 50 g to over 500 g. The Short-eared Elephant Shrew has an average size of Convert|150|mm|in. All are quadrupedal with mouse-like tails, and rather long legs for their size, and although the size of the trunk varies from one species to another, all are able to twist it about in search of food. Their life span is about two or three years. Their diet is largely insects and other small creatures, particularly beetles, spiders, worms, ants, and termites, mostly gleaned from leaf litter, but they also take seeds and some green shoots. They have large canine teeth, and also high-crowned cheek teeth like those of ungulatescite book |editor=Macdonald, D.|author= Rathbun, Galen B.|year=1984 |title= The Encyclopedia of Mammals|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 730-733|isbn= 0-87196-871-1] . Their dental formula is:dentition2|1-3.1.4.2|3.1.4.2-3

Although mostly diurnal and very active, they are difficult to trap and very seldom seen: elephant shrews are wary, well camouflaged, and adept at dashing away from threats. Several species make a series of cleared pathways through the undergrowth and spend their day patrolling them for insect life: if disturbed, the pathway provides an obstacle-free escape route.

Elephant shrews are not highly social animals, but many live in mongamous pairs, which share and defend a home territory, which they mark using scent glands. The "Rhynchocyon" species also dig small conical holes in the soil, bandicoot style, but others may use natural crevices, or make leaf nests.

Females give birth to litters of one or three young several times a year, after a gestation period varying from 45 to 60 days. The young are born relatively well developed, but remain in the nest for several days before venturing outside.

Classification

In the past, elephant shrews have been classified with the shrews and hedgehogs as part of the Insectivora; regarded as distant relatives of the ungulates; grouped with the treeshrews; and lumped in with the hares and rabbits in the Lagomorpha. Recent molecular evidence, however, strongly supports a superorder Afrotheria which unites tenrecs, and golden moles with certain ungulates or mammals that were previously presumed to be ungulates, including hyraxes, sirenians, aardvarks and elephants, as well as the elephant shrews.

A number of fossil species are also known, all of them from Africa. Some, such as "Myohyrax", were so similar to hyraxes that they were initially misidentified as belonging to that group, while others, such as "Mylomygale" were relatively rodent-like. These unusual forms all died out by the Pleistocenecite book |author= Savage, RJG, & Long, MR|year=1986 |title= Mammal Evolution: an illustrated guide|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 54|isbn= 0-8160-1194-X] .

There are 16 species of elephant shrew in four genera, two of which are monotypic.
* ORDER MACROSCELIDEA
** Family Macroscelididae
*** Genus "Elephantulus"
**** Short-snouted Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus brachyrhynchus"
**** Cape Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus edwardii"
**** Dusky-footed Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus fuscipes"
**** Dusky Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus fuscus"
**** Bushveld Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus intufi"
**** Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus myurus"
**** Somali Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus revoili"
**** North African Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus rozeti"
**** Rufous Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus rufescens"
**** Western Rock Elephant Shrew, "Elephantulus rupestris"
*** Genus "Macroscelides"
**** Short-eared Elephant Shrew, "Macroscelides proboscideus"
*** Genus "Petrodromus"
**** Four-toed Elephant Shrew, "Petrodromus tetradactylus"
*** Genus "Rhynchocyon"
**** Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, "Rhynchocyon chrysopygus"
**** Checkered Elephant Shrew, "Rhynchocyon cirnei"
**** Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew, "Rhynchocyon petersi"
**** Grey-faced Sengi , "Rhynchocyon udzungwensis" [ [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iOZBW8DMT3rHIv5uyWjQHU30edVw AFP: Shrew's who: New mammal enters the book of life] ]

External links

* [http://www.awf.org/wildlives/72 Elephant Shrew: Wildlife summary from the African Wildlife & Reptiles Foundation]
* [http://www.calacademy.org/research/bmammals/eshrews/ California Academy of Sciences: Elephant-Shrews]
* [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080201085759.htm New Species Of Giant Elephant-shrew Discovered]

References

Murata Y, Nikaido M, Sasaki T, Cao Y, Fukumoto Y, Hasegawa M, Okada N. Afrotherian phylogeny as inferred from complete mitochondrial genomes. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2003 Aug;28(2):253-60.

Murphy WJ, Eizirik E, Johnson WE, Zhang YP, Ryder OA, O'Brien SJ. Molecular phylogenetics and the origins of placental mammals. Nature. 2001 Feb 1;409(6820):614-8.

Tabuce R, Marivaux L, Adaci M, Bensalah M, Hartenberger JL, Mahboubi M, Mebrouk F, Tafforeau P, Jaeger JJ. Early Tertiary mammals from North Africa reinforce the molecular Afrotheria clade. Proc Biol Sci. 2007 May 7;274(1614):1159-66.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Elephant shrew — Shrew Shrew, n. [See {Shrew}, a.] 1. Originally, a brawling, turbulent, vexatious person of either sex, but now restricted in use to females; a brawler; a scold. [1913 Webster] A man . . . grudgeth that shrews [i. e., bad men] have prosperity, or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • elephant shrew — any of several African insectivores of the family Macroscelididae, having long hind legs and a long, sensitive snout. [1865 70] * * * ▪ mammal  any of 16 species of rat sized African mammals (mammal) named for their long, tapered, and flexible… …   Universalium

  • elephant shrew — noun : any of several leaping African shrews comprising a family (Macroscelididae) remotely related to both the true shrews and the hedgehogs and having the nose long and flexible like a proboscis * * * any of several African insectivores of the… …   Useful english dictionary

  • elephant shrew — noun Any of several small, insectivorous long nosed mammals, of the order Macroscelidea, native to Africa …   Wiktionary

  • elephant shrew — noun a small insectivorous African mammal with a long mobile snout, long hindlimbs, and a rat like tail. [Family Macroscelididae: many species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • elephant shrew — /ˈɛləfənt ʃru/ (say eluhfuhnt shrooh) noun any of several rat sized mammals of the family Macroscelididae of Africa, noted for jumping, and having a long, scaly tail and flexible, trunk like snout …   Australian English dictionary

  • Checkered Elephant Shrew — Checkered Elephant Shrew[1] Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • Dusky-footed Elephant Shrew — Dusky footed Elephant Shrew[1] Conservation status Data Deficient (IUCN 3.1) …   Wikipedia

  • Dusky Elephant Shrew — Dusky Elephant Shrew[1] Conservation status Data Deficient (IUCN 3.1) …   Wikipedia

  • North African Elephant Shrew — North African Elephant Shrew[1] …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.