Temporal range: early Miocene to Recent
|The common tenerc|
Tenrecs are varied. As a result of convergent evolution, they look like hedgehogs, shrews, opossums, mice and even otters. They occupy aquatic, arboreal, terrestrial and underground habitats. Some of these species can be found in the Madagascar's dry deciduous forests.
Although they may resemble shrews, hedgehogs, or otters, they are not closely related to any of these groups. Their closest relatives are other African, insectivorous mammals such as golden moles and elephant shrews. The common ancestry of these animals, together with aardvarks, hyraxes, elephants, and sea cows in the group Afrotheria, was not recognized until the late 1990s. Work on the diversity of afrotherian mammals has provided more support for their common ancestry.
Unusual among placental mammals, the anus and urogenital tracts of tenrecs share a common opening, or cloaca, a feature more commonly seen in birds, reptiles, and amphibians. They have low body temperatures, sufficiently so that they do not require a scrotum to cool their sperm as most other mammals do.
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- Nicholl, Martin 1984. In Macdonald D. (ed) The encyclopedia of mammals. New York: Facts on File, pp. 744–747. ISBN 0-87196-871-1