A scientist and a shrewA California Academy of Sciences researcher trekked through the rain forests of Tanzania in search of the <i>Rhynchocyon udzungwensis</i>, the newest mammal to join the elephant shrew group. They may not look like elephants, but they do have evolutionary...
[ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >> Galen Rathbun: Wipe your mind clean and you have to think of elephant-shrews as a cross between a little miniature antelope, long legs and an anteater, long nose, long tongue. And then of course, they've got a tail that's kind of rat like. >> That's Galen Rathbun, from San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences, who helped discover this new species of elephant-shrew. >> Galen Rathbun: It's not very common to find new mammals these days. I don't keep a tally, but maybe 10 or 12 a year. >> In fact, this is the first species from the giant elephant-shrew family to be discovered in 126 years. >> Galen Rathbun: When you come up with something like the new one, the gray-faced sengi, that's so obviously different, it's exciting, because it's something that escapes the notice of biologists up until now. >> Here are the vitals. Its scientific name is... >> Galen Rathbun: Rhynochocyon udzungwensis. >> It lives in the rainforest of Tanzania, digs in the ground and eats invertebrates, has teeth but doesn't bite, weighs in at a pound and a half, can run fast but doesn't climb, and is monogamous. >> Galen Rathbun: It's a--kind of an esoteric group that a lot of people outside of Africa just don't know about. But that makes it even more exciting. >> Esoteric, for sure. But still you're asking why is it called the elephant-shrew? >> Galen Rathbun: So with molecular genetics, they've found out that the elephant-shrews, if you go back far enough in Africa, have a common ancestor with other African animals, such as the elephant, the sea cow, the aardvark. >> First discovered in the Udzungwa Mountains in 2005, scientists used satellite imagery to determine the shrew's habitat is only 120 square miles. >> Galen Rathbun: One uses high tech now a days to take a shortcut. In the old days you had to walk around every square mile of forest to see if your new species was there or not. That we could in a few months, whereas in the old days, it might take you several years. >> Galen estimates there's about 20,000 of these elephant-shrews living in Tanzania, which may sound like a lot, but given the country's population boom, there could be some real conservation concerns in the future. I'm Kara Tsuboi reporting for CNET News.com with elephant-shrew. ^M00:02:08 [ Music ]