This large elepahnt shrew looks like a cross between a cartoon mouse head and a rat

Grey-Faced Sengigrey-faced-sengi1

The Grey-Faced Sengi (Rhynchocyon udzungwensis), an elephant-shrew from Tanzania, is listed as Vulnerable because it is known from only two areas. It belongs to a group of mammals called Afrotheria that evolved in Africa over 100 million years ago and whose relatives include elephants, sea cows, and the Aardvark. The Grey-faced Sengi was only described this year after being caught on film in 2005 in Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains.

The Grey-faced Sengi (Rhynchocyon udzungwensis) is a species of elephant shrew, belonging to the genus Rhynchocyon, whose discovery was announced in January 2008. Only fifteen species of elephant shrew were known up until this point, with the last living species having been described more than a century ago (the Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew, Elephantulus myurus). The creature was found living in a small community in the high-altitude Ndundulu forest in Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains, an isolated area of great biodiversity where a number of other new species have been discovered, including the Udzungwa Forest-partridge, a species of monkey called the kipunji, and several species of amphibians and reptiles. The discovery was made by Galen Rathbun of the California Academy of Sciences and Francesco Rovero of the Museum of Natural Sciences in Trento, Italy. They are set to publish their findings in the February ’08 issue of the British Journal of Zoology.
The species was first discovered by cameras set up by Rovero in 2005, and captured and observed directly the next year. During a two-week expedition in March 2006, the zoologists were surprised by rain, even though it was supposed to be the dry season. They then found that the animal was larger than they had expected, and that the traps they had brought would not contain it. Instead they had to use traditional twine snares.

It lives on forest floors and is characterised by “a distinctive grey face and a jet-black lower rump”, as well as its size.[2] At 700 grammes (1.5 pounds), this species is about 25 percent larger than any other known sengi with a body c.30cm long and a tail c.25cm long. So far only two populations are known, existing within an area covering around 300 square kilometres (115 square miles) of forest.

IUCN Red List vulnerable species described in 2008

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey-faced_Sengi

http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0201-hance_new_shrew.html

Image courtesy of chicagotribune.com/news/mammals

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