Scientists Discover New Species Of Elephant-Shrew

A group of international and Kenyan scientists consider they may have discovered a new mammal species in a Kenyan forest near the Somali border.

The scientists were using camera traps to photograph mysterious elephant shrews in the Boni-Dodori forest. They were delighted to photograph what they believe is a completely new species of giant sengi, or elephant shrew.

"This is a significant discovery," said biologist Dr. Rajan Amin of the Zoological Society of London. "The whole team was very thrilled to capture pictures of this mammal." There are 17 identified species of elephant shrew, all native to Africa. They got their name because of their peculiar flexible nose which resembles an elephant's trunk, and because of their superficial resemblance to true shrews.

The Zoological Society of London and Kenya Wildlife Service captured the images. Researchers hope DNA samples will certainly prove whether it is a distinct species. The discovery could help in accepting this coastal forest region, which has been hard to study at times because of its closeness to Somalia.

Scientists believe that if the shrew is found to be a distinct species, the discovery could bring more awareness to East Africa's dwindling coastal forests.

Elephant shrews are more intimately related to elephants than to shrews, according to the KWS, which uses the alternate name, sengis. "Sengis belong to an ancient group of animals that evolved in Africa over 100 million years ago, and share a general ancestor with elephants, sea cows, hyraxes, aardvark, tenrecs and golden-moles (the super-cohort Afrotheria)," according to the KWS. Bookmark and Share