Friday, February 01, 2008

Welcome, Giant Elephant Shrew!

It's always cool when someone discovers a "new" species (although it's obviously been around a long time).

Today, we welcome a new kind of elephant shrew to the party:
Despite its name, the creature, along with the 15 other known species of elephant shrew, is not actually related to shrews.
In fact, the creature is more closely related to a group of African mammals, which includes elephants, sea cows, aardvarks and hyraxes, having shared a common ancestor with them about 100 million years ago.
The odd family relations of these and other creatures is one of the wonders of science to me. I recall hearing an interview with Richard Dawkins on NPR several years ago, when he was promoting his book, "The Ancestor's Tale." He was asked what the most remarkable thing was he'd learned in writing the book. His reply was that he found it amazing that the hippopotamus, which he'd always supposed was closely related to pigs, was in fact only very distantly so. The closest evolutionary relative of the hippo turns out to be the whale.

1 comment:

dragonfly said...

Haha, lovely. He's actually kinda cute too.