ushishir (ushishir) wrote,
ushishir
ushishir

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The hero shrew!

Wow i have just read about a most marvellous shrew!

It's callled Scutisorex somereni or the hero shrew and it has the largest (proportinally) and strongest backbone of any known animal. The vertebral colum is so strong that a grown man can stand on its back and not harm it thus:

"Whenever [the Mangbetu] have a chance they take great delight in showing to the easily fascinated crowd its extraordinary resistance to weight and pressure. After the usual hubbub of various invocations, a full-grown man weighing some 160 pounds steps barefotted upon the shrew. Steadily trying to balance upon one leg, he continues to vociferate several minutes. The poor creature seems certainly to be doomed. But as soon as his tormentor jumps off, the shrew, after a few shivering movements, tries to escape, none of the worse for this made experience and apparently in no need of the wild applause and exhortations of the throng. During this demonstration the head is always left free. The strenght of the vertebral column, together with the strong convex curve behind the shoulder, evidently protects the heart and other viscera from being crushed and this is undoubtedly the reason why this shrew can submit to such rough treatment that instantly kills, as we have convinced ourselves, any other shrew or small rodent." (cited in Dieterlen and Heim de Balsac, 1979, p. 279) http://www.uvm.edu/~jdecher/Lecture09.html

More info and a picture of the skeleton can be found here: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/mammal/hero.shtml

Amazing, shrews rule!

Also there appears to be no reason for this remarkable spine which makes it even odder.

This reminds me of another odd creature, a snail with armour plating: http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/11_03/snails.shtml
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