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Who Ever Said the Giant Otter Shrew Was a Tenrec?

Sunday, November 6, 2016 14:03
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(Before It's News)

Everybody did and does.
Every reference (e.g. Wikipedia, EOL) you can find lists the giant otter shrew Potamogale velox (Du Chaillu 1860, Nicoll 1985) as a tenrec… and I don’t know why. But I’m willing to learn, if anyone can offer up an explanation based on phylogenetic analysis.

Until then…

Adding Potamogale to
the large reptile tree, nests it with Scutisorex the shrew (Fig. 2), not Tenrec the tenrec (Fig. 3).

Figure 1. Potamogale velox, the giant otter shrew nests with Scutisorex (Fig. 2), the hero shrew, in the large reptile tree.

Figure 1. Potamogale velox, the giant otter shrew nests with Scutisorex (Fig. 2), the hero shrew, in the large reptile tree.

Both shrews have
canine-like medial incisors and lack canine-like canines. Both have a skull shorter than half the presacral length. Both have a relatively small scapula. And a long list of minor traits. Shifting Potamogale to Tenrec adds 30 steps to the LRT.

Figure 2. Scutisorex (below) and Crocidura (above) are extant shrews.

Figure 2. Scutisorex (below) and Crocidura (above) are extant shrews.

Based on the shape of the more plesiomorphic dentition
Potamogale (Fig. 1) is the more primitive taxon compared to Scutisorex (Fig. 2). Neither is very much like Tenrec (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Tenrec skeleton

Figure 3. Tenrec skeleton, not much in common with Potamogale (Fig. 1). 

References
Du Chaillu P 1860. Descriptions of mammals from equatorial Africa. Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History, 7, 358–369.
Nicoll M 1985. The biology of the giant otter shrew *Potamogale velox*. National Geographic Society Research Reports, 21: 331-337.

wiki/Giant_otter_shrew

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