A unique cat-sized mammal has been discovered by scientists in the mountains of Tanzania. It’s quite the strange little critter.
It’s a type of giant elephant shrew, also called “sengi.” There were about fifteen species of sengi known to science, but the new one is the largest sengi ever discovered. It’s also quite colorful.
Biologists have dubbed it the “grey-faced sengi” or “grey-faced elephant shrew,” because of its grizzled grey face. It has golden-orange fur on its sides, a jet-black rump, and a spiky crest of maroon fur on its head. It walks on four spindly legs, looking a bit like a cross between a small antelope and an anteater. It has a long flexible snout and uses it and its tongue to flick up insects like termites into its mouth.
Sengi are closely related to elephants, belonging to a family of African mammals that includes elephants, aardvarks, hyraxes, manatees and dugongs.
The Udzungwa mountain range iin Tanzania is a real hot spot of biodiversity. In just the past few years, several previously undescribed vertebrates have been discovered there, including the Udzungwa partridge, a monkey, another sengi, and several new reptiles and amphibians.