A mini-family member of the elephant, the “extinct” Somali elephant shrew, has been found by scientists after fifty years without a trace in Djibouti, East Africa.
The little mammal seems to be a curious fusion of different animals. For example, it has a body the size of a mouse, with a kind of elephant trunk attached, which it uses to track insects and worms. Meanwhile, with its gazelle-like legs, it can shoot past you at 30 kilometers per hour.
Although the animal looks like the mouse with its big eyes and long tail family, it is more akin to the elephant – after all, it shares a 55 million-year-old ancestor with the elephant, the manatee, and the aardvark, says professor of animal science, Herbert Prins, of Wageningen University.
These species belong to the Afrotheria, a group of animals of African origin, of which only a few are left.
The local population on Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, had seen the mouse before. To confirm its presence, scientists set 1,259 traps with a lure mixture of dried peanut butter, oats, and yeast, they write in the scientific journal PeerJ. They caught a total of twelve. And so the Somali elephant shrew was officially rediscovered.