San Francisco (KPIX/CNN) – Scientists make a rare discovery, a new species of mammal.
It’s small and rodent-like, but experts say it has more in common with elephants than with mice.
Once you take a look at this thing, you’ll see why.
At first glance, it looks like a rat.
Small furry body.
But look at that long nose.
“They are actually more closely related to elephants than they are shrews or mice,” Dr. Galen Rathbun, Fellow and Research Associate, Calif. Academy of Sciences said.
Its official name: Macroscelides micus.
“Think about crossing a miniature antelope and an anteater,” Dr. Rathebun said.
It’s a new species of elephant shrew.
“For some groups of organisms, they are constantly describing new species but for mammals it’s relatively rare,” Dr. Jack Dumbacher, Curator of Ornithology and Mammalogy, Calif. Academy of Sciences said.
And the world may never have known about this little guy if Dr. Rathebun didn’t stumble over it.
He was walking through the desert in Namibia when he first saw one: “I noticed that there were some differences that didn’t make sense, so I came to Jack for genetics,” Dr. Rathebun said.
“When we sequenced the DNA and looked at them a little more closely, we said this thing is really different,” Dr. Dumbacher said.
“They eat termites and insects so they are like little anteaters. They have that long nose,” Dr. Rathebun said.
“They are monogamous which is unusual,” Dr. Rathebun said.
“When they do give birth, it’s twins or sometimes three. They are fully furred and ready to run,” Dr. Rathebun said.
And his home looks like the surface of mars.
Here he is in the display at the California Academy of Sciences. Happy to blend in, at least for now.