Good news from Africa, where elephant shrews have reportedly been rediscovered for the first time in 50 years.
The pint-sized creatures were last recorded by scientists back in 1968. In the ’70s, subsequent studies failed to find any trace, leading to them falling into the category of ‘lost species’.
Now, however, the tiny mammals have been spotted by researchers exploring an area in Djibouti.
Despite their names, elephant shrews are neither a species of shrew nor elephant (obviously).
In fact, they’re termed ‘sengi’, and are more closely related to aardvarks and manatees, getting their name from their trunk-like noses.
As per reports, researchers were able to find the elephant shrews after their period in the dark by setting up more than 1,000 traps in 12 locations. A mix of peanut butter, oatmeal and yeast was laid out to lure them … and it worked.
The researchers sighted no less than 12 sengis in total, getting photo and video evidence for the first time in history. Thankfully, there seems to be an abundance of the animals in the area.
Steven Heritage, a research scientist with the Duke University Lemur Center, told the BBC: “When we opened the first trap and saw the little tuft of hair on the tip of its tail, we just looked at one another and couldn’t believe it.
“A number of small mammal surveys since the 1970s did not find the Somali sengi in Djibouti – it was serendipitous that it happened so quickly for us.”
Heritage added: “Sengi biology is a science of passion. It takes somebody that’s motivated by passion for sengis to go out looking for this lost species.
“They are not well-known animals, but when you see them, it’s impossible not to adore them.”
I don’t know about you, but I think this is fantastic news. Elephant shrews are adorable little creatures, I think we can all agree.
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