Lost & Found, Somali Sengi

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Researchers have spotted the Somali sengi, a relative of aardvarks and elephants, in Djibouti.
Steven Heritage/Duke University Lemur Center

We have used lost & found within post titles enough times since we started that maybe it should be a category. They are mostly happy surprise stories. More complicated than cute kitten videos, but worth the read. For now, our congratulations to the scientists who made the discovery and our thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for reporting this:

Tiny Elephant Shrew Resurfaces After More Than 50 Years On Lost Species List

For more than 50 years, the mouse-size Somali sengi was thought to be a lost species.

Turns out, it wasn’t.

Researchers recently spotted the Somali sengi, a kind of elephant shrew, not in Somalia — but in neighboring Djibouti.

“It’s a teeny, tiny relative of an aardvark and an elephant that’s the size of a mouse,” Steven Heritage, a Duke University Lemur Center researcher who traveled to Djibouti to look for the Somali sengi, told NPR.

It has a pointy nose and large, adorable eyes and can fit in the palm of your hand.

“In science we call them charismatic microfauna, which in lay-speak translates to cute little animal,” Heritage said.

Heritage is quick to credit Djiboutians, including scientists, for the rediscovery of the Somali sengi. Though the Global Wildlife Conservation considered the creature a lost species, people in East Africa easily recognized the animal when Heritage showed them pictures of it. Heritage and his team set a live trap and, he says, it wasn’t long before a Somali sengi wandered into it.

Houssein Rayaleh, an ecologist from Djibouti, is part of the research team that identified the Somali sengi.

Read the whole story here.

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