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INTRODUCTION

Spec's Africa is home to a myriad of fascinating mammals. Some, like the elusive sut, are unique forms that have no close relatives on home earth. Others, like the sengis (elephant shrews) are typical little creatures that are virtually identical to their HE counterparts.

HISTORY

Spec's sengis first show up in the fossil record towards the end of the Oligocene, already widely diverse, suggesting that they had been around far back into the Paleogene. As in HE, there were rodent like sengis, small hyrax-like browsers, and many shrew-like forms. Oddly enough, there is even a specimen of a fox-sized predatory sengi from the late Miocene of Kenya. Most of this diversity was snuffed out in the beginning of the Pliocene by the expansion of the ephrus and tenrecs, which rapidly gained ground in Africa during the Pliocene aridification of the continent. These groups directly competed with the more "unique" sengis, many of which couldn't keep up with the tenrecs' much more rapid reproductive rates. 

BIOLOGY

As the elephant shrews have lost out in most arenas to their distant afrothere relatives, they are almost as impoverished species-wise in Spec as they are in HE. They are still restricted to Africa, mostly south of the Sahara. Spec sengis coexist with the zams just as well as HE sengis coexist with shrews. This likely has curbed their diversity and species count significantly, however. There are only seventeen species in five genera. Nevertheless, macroscelids still scamper (and gallop) along, most eking out a humble and uncertain existence as insectivores. One, however, has taken a highly divergent route.

p-MACROSCELIDAE

 There are seven species of shrew-like insectivores in this genus, which has a nearly pan-African distribution. They are all light-brown to grey colored animals with tiny trunks; they're small enough to fit 3 or 4 comfortably in the palm of an adult human's hand. These sengis are considerably more bipedal than most HE sengis, and hopping rather than running on all fours seems to be their preferred method of locomotion. Like all macroscelids, proboscisorex is k-selected, giving birth to only 1-3 offspring following a gestation of 45-60 days. The offspring are born highly developed, and are weaned by 2-3 weeks of age. 

Atlas Elephant Shrew (Proboscisorex borealis)

Atlas Elephant Shrew (Proboscisorex borealis) is The most northerly and smallest extant sengi, this species occurs across the Atlas Mountains of north Africa. It's also the only sengi throughout the entirety of its range.

São Tomé Weaselshrew (Nesoproboscimartes dantensis)

São Tomé Weaselshrew (Nesoproboscimartes dantensis) is an elongated, somewhat weasel-shaped sengi is the only land mammal native to the island of São Tomé. At about one kilogram in weight, it's by far largest member of spec's Macroscelidae. The weaselshrew is a diurnal hunter, at home on the ground or in the canopy. It's exclusively carnivorous, taking just about any animal matter that doesn't put up too much of a fight, including insects, eggs, lizards, and even small birds. Unlike most other sengis of either timeline, it is almost exclusively quadrupedal, rarely even reading up on its hind legs. The weaselshrew's color pattern is similar to that of a young tapir, tan with numerous thin white stripes and spots. It produces fewer liters than mainland sengis, normally just two or three per year. 

TRAGRAGULISORCIDAE

Shrewbok (Tragulisorex saharensis)

Elephantshrew

Shrewbok,  Tragulisorex saharensis  (Sahara)

This is by far the most aberrant of all macroscelids and perhaps second only to the sut among afrotheres. After this elusive animal was first sighted, it was believed to have been a pint-sized paraseledont, due to its minute hooves and horse-like gait. It was not until the first specimens were collected that the true identity of this animal was revealed. It was an afrothere, and remarkably, a close relative of elephant shrews. The size of a hare, the shrewbok is a solitary opportunist, eating nearly any plant, insect, or vertebrate it can fit into its mouth. It has a penchant for scorpions in particular. It has two-toed "hooves" with dewclaws, a long, naked tail, and disproportionally large ears for thermoregulation, much like a fennec fox. The shrewbok is a desert inhabitant, found throughout most of the Sahara. Shrewboks are rarely found together, save for a mother and children. Unlike the sengis, the shrewbok has a nearly four month-long gestation and raises two litters of twins each year. It has a notably slower metabolism compared to other macroscelids, and has an average lifespan of 10-15 years. Sexual maturity is reached at around a year of age.

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