Friday, February 01, 2008

Rhynochocyon udzungwensis: New Tanzanian Mammal


The bizarre-looking creature, dubbed Rhynochocyon udzungwensis, is a type of giant elephant shrew, or sengi. The cat-sized animal looks like a cross between a miniature antelope and a small anteater. It has a grey face, a long, flexible snout, a bulky, amber body, a jet-black rump and it stands on spindly legs.

Despite its name, the creature, along with the 15 other known species of elephant shrew, is not actually related to shrews. The new species was first caught on film in 2005 in Ndundulu Forest in Tanzania's Udzungwa Mountains by a camera trap set by Francesco Rovero, from the Trento Museum of Natural Sciences in Italy.

Tanzania's Udzungwa Mountains are biodiverse-rich. In addition to this new species, a number of other new animals have been found there, including the Udzungwa partridge, the Phillips' Congo shrew, and a new genus of monkey known as Kipunji as well as several reptiles and amphibians.

It’s published in the latest issue of the Journal of Zoology. Read the press release.