Elephant shrews are, oddly, related to actual elephants | Science News

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Elephant shrews are, oddly, related to actual elephants

Tiny speedsters build their own highways

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8:00am, July 14, 2014

Elephant shrew noses, as on this Rhynchocyon petersi, aren’t true trunks but wiggle well. 

Elephant shrews — including so-called “giant” species the size of a squirrel — are more closely related to elephants than to shrews. As for their basic lifestyle, elephant shrews may be more like really mixed-up antelopes.

“Take an antelope and an anteater and slap them together,” says Galen Rathbun of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Elephant shrews, or sengis, are native to Africa and, like antelopes on the savanna, “run like the wind,” Rathbun says. Mated pairs often clear long, straight paths through their territories and bound along them when a hawk looms. Smaller sengi species spend a lot of time clearing twigs or other high hurdles off the potentially lifesaving speedways. (This video of the Rufous elephant shrew shows the animal using paths to evade predators and hunt

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