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Spec Mammalia: Tenrecidae

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INTRODUCTION

Tenrecs are small, insectivorous mammals once thought allied with the insectivores, and now on the basis of genetic studies, with the hodge-podge of certain placental mammals simply called 'afrotheres'. Other afrotheres from HE include the hyraxes, the aardvark, the elephant-shrews, the proboscideans, the sea cows, and the golden moles. Tenrecs, dating back to the Eocene, are certainly odd mammals, in any case, lacking jugal (cheek) bones and unable to maintain a constant body temperature. The greatest tenrecid diversity is to be found in Africa and Madagascar, but several species dwell in south-western Eurasia, while their fossil record shows even greater distribution during the Pliocene. Tenrecids from both worlds show a broad range of habits and adaptations, given their role as generally small, nocturnal, insect eaters - both worlds have burrowing, tree-climbing and aquatic species, and both have spiny genera as well - although for unknown reasons, no completely spiny tenrecs similar to the hedgehog tenrecs of HE have been discovered on Spec (so far).

Some of the Spec species do share the HE tenrec ability to stridulate - rubbing the neck spines together to produce a rasping, chittering noise they use to communicate with their mother and litter-mates as they search for food. Even with these adaptations, tenrecs are frequently eaten by the reptilian predators of Spec. To compensate for this and other natural attrition, some species give birth to over 30 young at a time, although this forces the mother and litter to forage during daylight hours as well, or else starve.

Maggot-Shrews (Tenrecs)

One of three Malagasy tenrecs known to scavenge at the remains of dead dinosaurs, the maggot-shrew is usually nocturnal and cautious, the first report of maggot-shrews had dozens of them swarming over the body of an adolescent hoser. Almost certainly the animal had died of natural causes, but the genus was nonetheless named after an East African army ant. More usually the maggot-shrews wait until larger scavengers have left, then search what little is left of the corpse for fly larvae, carrion beetles, bone moths, scraps of meat and offal, and so on. The bones are generally finished off by the gnawing of larger mammals such as the Hairy Burke. Few signs of the body are left by the end of the month.

At other times the maggot-shrews eat insects, spiders, scorpions (swiftly biting the sting off), amphibians, and lizards. An unrelated species with similar habits is known to live on the Iberian Peninsula, along the Mediterranean coast.

Stinky Tenrec (Feteotenrec bicolor)

Drh-tenrec

(fig. 1) Stinky tenrec, Teteotenrex bicolor (Madagascar)

The stinky tenrec (Feteotenrec bicolor) is a species tolerated by the cityfinchs, somewhat similar in appearance and habits to the homeworld skunks, polecats, zorillas and moonrats - four unrelated but strongly convergent clades of smelly black and white nocturnal omnivores.

The stinky tenrec lairs in disused chambers of the cityfinch nests, and feeds extensively on the symbiotic and parasitic beetles, lizards, and other small animals that infest the nests. However, it will also take dead and injured cityfinch adults and nestlings, and at night leaves

Stumpjumper (Potamogale sp.)

Drh-saltigale

(fig. 2) Plow-nosed stumpjumper, Saltigale foderenaris (Africa)

Even though nearly as large as a cat, the plow-nosed stumpjumper is not larger that some Home-Earth tenrecids - the giant 'otter-shrew' Potamogale velox can be over 60 cm long, even though about half of that is tail. An adult stumpjumper is considerably heavier - and adult female can weigh over 3 kilograms if well-fed. In its behaviour, Saltigale is more like a small pig than a traditional tenrec - rooting through the leaf-litter in the riverbasins of West Africa, devouring for the most part invertebrates, but also on small vertebrates and fallen fruit. Like many tenrecs, the stumpjumper is nocturnal, with poor eyesight, but very keen hearing and sense of smell. They also possess stiff spines in the course hair along the back of the head.

Urchins (Echinogale sp.)

Drh-echinogale

(fig. 3) Street urchin, Echinogale pedestris, and river urchin, Echinogale palustris (Africa)

In this and the probably related River Urchin, the spines are spread over most of the back, as well. This Pedestrian Tenrec is one of the many species that takes advantage of the wide trampled pathways created by the mainland Hosers and other large dinosaurs, searching the crushed undergrowth for insects and small lizards. Usually encountered in gangs of around 30 - the mother tenrec and her current litter. The river urchin Echinogale palustris is lightly rounder and shorter than the street urchins, and has partly-webbed feet. Thus far only reported from the swamps, and on the banks of rivers, in the Congo basin. Little is known of the animals habits, although it does possess fewer nipples than the other Echinogale, so probably produces fewer offspring in each litter

Drhoz

          ,=Saifugale toshifaika (Muckraking maggot-shrew)
        ,=|
        | `=Feteotenrec bicolor (Stinky tenrec)

=Tenrecidae=|

        | ,=Saltigale foderenaris (Stumpjumper)
        `=|
          | ,=Echinogale pedestris (Street urchin)
          `=|
            `= Echinogale palustris (River urchin)

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