Tuesday, 15 June 2021

BBC: Secrets of tiny diving mammals revealed


image captionThese mammals can remain active under water for more than 20 seconds, storing oxygen in their tiny muscles

Biologists have uncovered the genetic secrets of the world's smallest diving mammals - water shrews. 

Using DNA samples to construct an evolutionary tree, scientists revealed that diving behaviour evolved five distinct times in this group of insect-eating mammals. 

The ability of these tiny, warm-blooded animals to dive and hunt in freezing water seems to defy evolutionary logic.

The findings are published in the online journal eLife. 

To track this surprising evolutionary journey, the scientists collected DNA samples from 71 different species all belonging to a large group of related, insect-eating mammals, collectively called Eulipotyphla

That Latin term translates to "the truly fat and blind"; it is a group of mammals that includes hedgehogs, moles and shrews

Read on…

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