My East Africa, Madagascar & other wildlife photos More of my East Africa photos More of my Madagascar photos More of my other wildlife spotting photos

Friday, August 6, 2010

East Africa photos in the Biological Classification

By now most of the previously photos of East Africa I published on my blog are now organized in the Biological Classification (you can find it under the 'find wildlife photos' block on the left). All the mammals of my East Africa photos in the Flickr photostream you can see at the top of my blog are now clickable in the Biological Classification menu. So if you like to see all carnivores, the rhinos or find the relation between Giraffes and Reedbucks, it's now easy :-)
New photos will follow soon again!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Madagascar Day 2: Tenrecs are weird animals

26 July 2008. We went to Exotic Reserve Peyrieras. This is a private park. In this reserve they have captive animals that exist throughout Madagascar. Chameleons, geckos, insects, frogs. And tenrecs.

Tenrec you say? Most of you probably have never heard of tenrecs (tenreks in Dutch). Tenrecs come in quite some variety. They look quite similar to hedgehogs (egels) and shrews (spitsmuizen). In the past they were classified in the group of insectivores, together with hedgehogs, shrews and moles (mollen). And for the Dutch: yeah, shrews (spitsmuizen) are insectivores, not rodents (knaagdieren), since they are not mice and totally not related to them.

Since there were no hedgehogs, shrews and the likings on Madagascar - very limited number of mammal families do exist there, evolution did its trick. Convergent evolution made the tenrecs find the niches left untouched by the absense of shrews and hedgehogs. Tenrecs now look like shrews, hedgehogs (with spines!) and even otters.

So, tenrecs are not insectivores. What are they? Still weird creatures. Recent genetic research has shown that tenrecs must be put in a new clade or superorder Afrotheria. The Afrotheria is a bizar group of animals. Apparently with no relation at all. What's in there? Tenrecs of course. The better known are the elephants and sea cows or manatees. Furthermore hyraxes (klipdassen), the closest living relatives to elephants. They have the size of and look a bit like an Alpine marmot. Let's also not forget the weird aardvark (aardvarken). If you look at my photos in Biological Classification menu, you can see the close relations between elephants, hyraxes and tenrecs.

Tenrecs can be found on forest floors throughout Madagascar. It's hard to encounter one in the wild. Especially if you are mainly searching for lemures and chameleons during the day. We were lucky enough to be able to see these captive Common Tenrecs (Tenrec ecaudatus, Gewone Tenrec) in this reserve. The tenrecs did not know what to think of the presence of Youssouf though...