You may be mistaken for thinking that elephant shrews belong to the shrew family - they don't. Unbelievably, these small furry insect-eating animals, also known as sengis, are more closely related to elephants! Their long, flexible snouts can twist and turn in search of food just like an elephant's trunk. The 17 species of elephant shrew are found all across the southern half of Africa, but aren't common in any one place. Find out more about some of the different species of elephant shrew below, including the newly discovered grey-faced sengi in nose-twisting action.
Scientific name: Macroscelididae
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Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Elephant shrews, or jumping shrews, are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea, whose traditional common English name comes from a fancied resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and an assumed relationship with the shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Insectivora. It has become plain that the elephant shrews are not to be classified with the superficially similar true shrews, but ironically are rather more closely related to elephants and their kin within the newly recognized Afrotheria; the biologist Jonathan Kingdon has proposed they instead be called sengis, a term derived from the Bantu languages of Africa.
They are widely distributed across the southern part of Africa, and although common nowhere, can be found in almost any type of habitat, from the Namib Desert to boulder-strewn outcrops in South Africa to thick forest. One species, the North African elephant shrew, remains in the semiarid, mountainous country in the far northwest of the continent.
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