Lost and Found

Tiny mammal reappears after 50 years in hiding

How researchers hunted down a "missing" animal in Africa.

Originally Published: 

This week, scientists announced they found long-lost species of elephant shrew in the mountains of the Republic of Djibouti.

The Somali Elephant-shrew was last seen in the 1970s.

Heritage et. al., 2020

Rather than being extinct, the Somali elephant-shrew was marked "data deficient."

Other rediscovered animals include Jackson's climbing salamander and the silver-backed chevrotain.

Global Wildlife Conservation

Researchers used baited traps to catch the elephant shrew, which is defined by a long, flexible snout that's used to probe for ants and other insects.

Here it is in action. >>

Heritage et. al., 2020

Thanks to the new discovery, the Somali Elephant-shrew will be removed from the Global Wildlife Conservation's list of 25 Most Wanted Lost Species.

Heritage et. al., 2020

Elephant shrews, or sengis, live only in Africa.

There are 19 species alive today.

Some of the tiny mammal's closest living relatives may come as a surprise. >>

Heritage et. al., 2020


The Asian elephant, elephas maximus, shares an ancestor with elephant shrews.

Elephant shrews are more closely related to elephants than shrews.


Elephant shrews are also cousins with aardvarks, elephants, hyraxes, and manatees. All share a 60 million-year-old ancestor in Africa.

The new finding also reclassifies the Somali Elephant-shrew as Galegeeska revoilii.

It was previously in the genus Elephantulus.

The return of the elephant shrew is described in a new study, led by Duke University researcher Steven Heritage. It appears in the journal PeerJ.

The elephant-like snout on these shrews comes in handy when digging through leaves, looking for prey.

In a classic viral YouTube video, the snout also seems to help with hitting the high notes...

Check out more beautifully bizarre animal news here.

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