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Scutisorex somereni Skelett.jpg
Hero shrew specimen and partial skeleton at the University of Zurich Zoological Museum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Eulipotyphla
Family: Soricidae
Subfamily: Crocidurinae
Genus: Scutisorex
Thomas, 1913
Type species
Scutisorex somereni
(Thomas, 1910)

See text

Scutisorex is a genus of African shrews, mammals of the family Soricidae.[1] Members of the genus are the only known mammal species whose vertebrae interlock, a feature which, along with the general enlargement and strengthening of the backbone and ribs, allows them to bear remarkable loads.[2] They also have well developed muscles for flexing their spine in the sagittal plane.[3] It is thought that these adaptations allow the shrews to wedge open spaces between the trunks of palm trees and the stems of dead leaves, as well underneath logs and rocks, allowing them to partake of a reliable source of insect larvae and earthworms that would otherwise be inaccessible.[3]

The genus contains the following species[1]:

  • Hero shrew (Scutisorex somereni) - (Thomas, 1910)
  • Thor's hero shrew (Scutisorex thori) - Stanley, Malekani & Gambalemoke in Stanley et al., 2013

Analysis of DNA sequences of several genes (mitochondrial cytochrome b and nuclear von Willebrand factor) suggests that the two species of Scutisorex split about 4 Ma ago, and that Scutisorex diverged from other crocidurine shrews about 14 Ma ago.[3]


  1. ^ a b Hutterer, R. (2005). "Genus Scutisorex". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Richard Johnston (July 24, 2013). "Shrew has a spine of godly strength". Nature. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Stanley, W. T.; Robbins, L. W.; Malekani, J. M.; Mbalitini, S. G.; Migurimu, D. A.; Mukinzi, J. C.; Hulselmans, J.; Prevot, V.; Verheyen, E.; Hutterer, R.; Doty, J. B.; Monroe, B. P.; Nakazawa, Y. J.; Braden, Z.; Carroll, D.; Kerbis Peterhans, J. C.; Bates, J. M.; Esselstyn, J. A. (2013-07-24). "A new hero emerges: another exceptional mammalian spine and its potential adaptive significance". Biology Letters. 9 (5): 20130486–20130486. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2013.0486. ISSN 1744-9561. PMC 3971687. PMID 23883579.