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Scientists discover new species that looks like a tiny, furry elephant

A new species of elephant shrew, a long-nosed, insect eating mammal native to Africa, was spotted scampering through a remote forest in Kenya.

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A new species of elephant shrew, similar to this Cape Elephant Shrew shown here in South Africa, was spotted in Kenya.

Newscom/File

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A furry mammal with a trunk-like nose was caught scampering about in a remote African forest. This elephant shrew, a large one, is likely a new species.

Conservationists studying the biodiversity of the Boni-Dodori forest on the coast of northeastern Kenya had set up camera traps there after a scientist had spotted an elephant shrew (also called a sengi) she didn’t recognize.

From the images of the new species, researchers now know the animal has maroon coloring on its sides, shoulders and back, and a lower rump that's jet-black. It's relatively large for an elephant shrew, weighing in at 1.3 pounds (600 grams) with a total length of 22 inches (550 millimeters), and a tail length of about 10 inches (250 mm).

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The team, which included the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), will next analyze the animal’s DNA to confirm whether or not it is indeed a new species of elephant shrew.

If it is a new species, that would make 18 species of sengi in the family Macroscelididae (13 species of soft-furred sengi and five species of the giant sengi). All are native to Africa. The animals are more closely related to elephants than shrews, despite being relatively small creatures – ranging from 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 centimeters) in length and weighing from less than a tenth of a pound to 1.5 pounds (30 to 700 grams).

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