Photo of the Day #19: Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew

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The interplay of light and shadow on yesterday’s Photo of the Day (Amphicyon) reminding me of another photo I recently took of a far more benign creature, the Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew (Rhynchocyon petersi). I had never seen or heard of these animals until a little more than a year ago, but there is an entire family of Elephant Shrews (the Macroscelididae) constituting at least four genera of about 15 species. Their appearance has caused their taxonomic affinities to shift quite a bit since the time of their discovery, but genetic evidence has grouped them within the Superorder Afrotheria, although this grouping is still controversial. Like many of the other animals I have featured on this blog, however, the Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew is threatened in the wild by habitat destruction and hunting in the forested areas of Kenya and Tanzania, the groups of these animals that I’ve seen at the Philadelphia Zoo and the National Zoo being part of a breeding program for these animals.