Navigation Links
New species of Hero Shrew found in equatorial Africa
Date:7/23/2013

Scientists at Chicago's Field Museum and international collaborators have described a new species of Hero Shrew the mammal with the most bizarre lower spine on Earth. The interlocking vertebrae of the Hero Shrew render the spine four to five times more robust relative to body mass, a condition not found in any other mammal. The spine has been an enigma to evolutionary biologists, with no known adaptive significance.

This new species of Hero Shrew, named Scutisorex thori, possesses features that may represent intermediate character states between the only other known Hero Shrew species (Scutisorex somereni), and other shrews. In addition, a novel hypothesis for the function of the animal's expanded lower spine has been proposed. The study will be published July 24, 2013 edition of Biology Letters.

First discovered in 1910, the Hero Shrew's most notable feature was not revealed for another seven years, when a specimen was dissected to reveal the most peculiar backbone of any mammal. The remarkable spine of the Hero Shrew is unique among mammals, in that the lower vertebrae have multiple lateral processes that interlock with the processes of neighboring vertebra. The arrangement, along with surrounding musculature, affords the animal extraordinary strength, so much so that the Hero Shrew has traditionally been worn as a talisman.

"This shrew first came to light when explorers came to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo," said Bill Stanley, Director of Collections and zoologist at the Field Museum. "The explorers watched in amazement as a full-grown man stood on the back of the Hero Shrew, and the animal walked away, unharmed."

Until now, there have been no other species of this bizarre shrew. The new species described in this study represents a possible intermediate between the original Hero Shrew and other shrews, since is possesses an interlocking spine, but with fewer lower vertebrae and lateral processes than the first Hero Shrew species.

"You and I have five lumbar vertebrae," said Stanley. "And so do most other mammals, but the Hero Shrew at least 10. Scutisorex thori has eight vertebrae, and fewer lateral processes than the original species."

The specimen of the new Hero Shrew species was collected in the lowland forest near the Tshuapa River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Based on the observations of one of the co-authors on the study, the authors present a novel hypothesis for the functional significance of the spine of Scutisorex thori; they suggest that these shrews position themselves between the trunk and leaf bases of Palms, and use their unique spine to exert force and gain access to concentrated sources of beetle larvae that are otherwise protected from predation. The same adaptation may allow these animals to lift logs or rocks to access invertebrates a food resource that remains unavailable to many other mammals.

The specimen of Scutisorex thori now residing at The Field Museum is a holotype, meaning that it will be the standard for identifying other members of the species. The new species is named in honor of Thorvald "Thor" Holmes, Jr. of the Humboldt State University Vertebrate Museum, at the suggestion of Bill Stanley, who did his graduate work there. The suggested common name is "Thor's Hero Shrew", appropriately invoking Thor, the god of strength in Norse mythology.

"The Age of Discovery is not over," said Stanley. "In fact, discoveries such as these happen in natural history collections, like the ones that we have at The Field Museum. In addition, hypotheses such as the one that we've generated concerning the functional significance of the Hero Shrew's spine fuel the scientific machine. We can't wait to see the results of further scientific studies that test the ideas presented in this article."


'/>"/>

Contact: Nancy O'Shea
media@fieldmuseum.org
312-665-7100
Field Museum
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Texas Invasive Species Program established at UT Austin
2. Rare primate species needs habitat help to survive
3. Surprise species at risk from climate change
4. New DNA test on roo poo identifies species
5. UCLA life scientists present new insights on climate change and species interactions
6. Researchers calculate the global highways of invasive marine species
7. Dirty dozen invasive species threaten UK
8. Agencies should use common approach to evaluate risks pesticides pose to endangered species
9. 100+ million mapped (and growing) records of nearly every living US species
10. Scientists look to ancient past to better predict how species may respond climate change
11. Notre Dame researchers are using new technologies to combat invasive species
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/10/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... and Commercial Aspects" to their offering. ... Biomarkers play an ... for selection of treatment as well for monitoring the results. ... in modern medicine. Biochip/microarray technologies and next generation sequencing are ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... 8, 2017 About Voice Recognition Biometrics Voice ... it against a stored voiceprint template. Acoustic features ... and tone are compared to distinguish between individual ... as most PCs already have a microphone and ... recognition biometrics are most likely to be deployed ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... Report Highlights ... The global synthetic-biology market reached nearly $3.9 billion in ... a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.0% through 2021. ... for synthetic biology. - Analyses of global market trends, with ... annual growth rates (CAGRs) through 2021. - Coverage of core ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... March 23, 2017 Kineta, Inc., a ... novel therapies in immuno-oncology, today announced the discovery ... molecule compounds that activate interferon response factor 3 ... demonstrate immune-mediated tumor regression in a murine colon ... who demonstrated complete tumor regression to initial drug ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... According to a report by Transparency Market Research (TMR), ... the presence of a large pool of participants; however, only a ... Sigma-Aldrich, compete with each other in this market. With Proliant being ... of this market in 2016.  ... As of now, a large number of vendors are ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017 In ... four equities in the Biotech industry: Sangamo Therapeutics Inc. ... Inc. (NYSE MKT: SYN), and Regulus Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... , 2017, Credit Suisse upgraded its rating on Pharmaceuticals/Biotechnology to "Overweight" from ... their free report at: ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN), today announced a major research ... GSK to generate genetic sequence data from the 500,000 volunteer ... researchers to gain valuable insights to support advances in the ... and life threatening diseases. ... Genetic evidence has revolutionized scientific discovery ...
Breaking Biology Technology: