On Friday I gave you this mystery object dragged from the cold, dead grasp of my old camera:
It was immediately identified as an ‘insectivore’ of some sort – which narrowed it down slightly. Although ‘insectivore’ doesn’t have quite the same meaning as it used to.
Once the Insectivora was a bit of a waste-basket taxonomic group that included a wide range of small insectivorous mammals, including moles, golden moles, hedgehogs, shrews, tree shrews, elephant shrews, tenrecs, colugos and solenodons. However, the group was fragmented on the basis of molecular studies and now the Insectivora no longer exists as a taxonomic group.
Despite this taxonomic shake-up the use of ‘insectivore’ still works as a descriptive term for the numerous small invertebrate eating mammals out there. Of which this is one.
The moles were ruled out straight away by Dave Godfrey, then the hedgehogs were ruled out by cromercrox, before Prancing Papio slammed in with the correct identification of Tail-less Tenrec Tenrec ecaudatus Lacépède, 1799.
These odd critters are found on several islands off the coast of Africa, including Madagascar. They eat a variety of invertebrates and small vertebrates like frogs, mice and lizards. They are now classified as members of the Afrosoricida a group it shares with the golden moles, but which is distinct from other ‘insectivores’. Here’s what they look like in the flesh:
This Friday I should be able to give you a more current mystery object reflecting what I’m dealing with at work, as I have been generously lent a decent camera by Cack-handed Kate – thanks mum!