Extant Afrotheria


Order: Macroscelidea
Family: Macroscelididae
Species: 15

Despite being referred to as 'elephant-shrews', they are not related to Proboscideans. They get their name from their elongated nose which resembles the trunk of an elephant. The snout is prehensile and highly sensitive. Macroscelideans have well developed senses of hearing and sight plus long, powerful hind limbs. These adaptations enable the elephant-shrew to detect and run swiftly away from predators. Elephant-shrews live in burrows that they dig with powerful front legs, or many species will utilise a burrow that has been abandoned by another animal. 1 to 2 young are born after a gestation period of 60 days. Their diet consists of invertebrates such as insects and worms.


Example species:

Rufous elephant-shrew
Elephantulus rufescens

Length: 12-12.5 cm
Weight: 50-60g
Social unit: Individual/pair
Region: East Africa
Status: Lower risk


Golden-rumped elephant-shrew
Rhynchocyon chrysopygus

Length: 27-29 cm
Weight: 525-550g
Social unit: Individual/group
Region: East Africa
Status: Endangered


Author: Emma-Louise Nicholls
Last updated: 20th November 2005
Return to Fossil groups home page

Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2005-6