Special Sub-Topic: Little-Known Tree Shrews
|William Ellis, the man who coined the term "tree shrews" was a part of whose expedition?|
Captain Cook. 1780 was the first year these animals were documented and even illustrated. William Ellis was the surgeon on the crew of Captain Cook's expedition to Malaysia. He came across these unresearched-before mammals and rather incorrectly called them "tree shrews". The name stuck, and a new family of mammals was inscribed.
|Before being made a part of the primate order of mammals, to what order of mammals did the tree shrews belong to?|
Insectivora (insectivores). Originally, tree shrews were considered insectivores like common shrews. But modern research showed that based on skull structure, limbs and other characteristics showed that tree shrews should be a part of the primate order. Recently in 1984, tree shrews were given an order of their own, Scandentia, part of the Eutheria infraclass of mammals, superorder Archonta, which is the same superorder as primates.
|How many recognized species of tree shrews are there?|
19. There are 19 recognized species in 5 genera. They differ from one genus to another mainly because of behavioral habits, skull structure, colouration, tail size and structure, and size.
|Where in the world can you find a tree shrew in the wild?|
Southeastern Asia. Most of the different species of tree shrew are located on the island of Borneo, thought to be the hub of the outspread of this animal. They are located from India to the Philippines, southern China to Java, in the tropical rainforests.
|All tree shrews live (at least part of the time) in trees.|
f. A few of species, the terrestrial tree shrew, the Philippine tree shrew and the striped tree shrew live only on the ground. These ground-based tree shrews find all they need on the ground of the rainforests of Borneo and Mindanao, the only places where you can find terrestrial tree shrews.
|How many species of tree shrew are nocturnal?|
1. Unusual for small mammals, almost all tree shrews are diurnal, meaning, they are awake during the day. The only exception is the pen-tailed tree shrew, which differs also because of its forward-facing eyes, and large tail that is mostly covered in scales. This species of tree shrew has its own sub-family.
|What differentiates one tree shrew species from another?|
All of these (Number of teats that the females have, Colouration patterns, Tail length and shape). Other important characteristics are the form of the ears (or ear flaps) the snout and teeth, and the claws of the tree shrew. Certain behavioral traits are characteristics of different genera, as are major physical differences.
|Which language does the name for the family - Tupaiidae - come from?|
Malay. It comes from the Malay word "Tupay" meaning "furry squirrel-like animal". As this animal is native to Malaysia and the area, the natives made a word for it, long before western explorers discovered the existence of this animal.
|How often does a mother tree shrew visit her newborn young?|
every two days. This is very odd behavior. The mother tree shrew will visit her young only once every two days, and feed them for about half an hour, and then leave again for two days. The mother's milk is extremely high in proteins, and she gives a lot at once, so the newborns become very bloated. The newborns have to gain independence very quickly, otherwise they don't survive. The mother will act in a very paranoid manner, never taking the same route to the nest, and often having one nest for her and her mate, and another nest for her young.
|A tree shrew's diet consists mainly of what?|
insects and arthropods. Although some tree shrews do eat other smaller mammals, and some even have been documented to cannibalize, the main part of their diet consists of insects, arthropods and other invertebrates. Also they eat fruit from the rainforest plants. They often use their front claws to hold their prey, although they are quadrupedal.
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