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Last Updated: Friday February 01 2008 07:18 GMT

Bizarre new creature discovered

The new mammal (Francesco Rovero)

An odd-looking creature has been discovered in the mountains of the African country Tanzania.

It's proper name is Rhynochocyon udzungwensis, it's the size of a cat and looks like a cross between a tiny antelope and a small ant eater.

The mammal has a grey face, a long, flexible snout, a tubby, amber-coloured body, a jet-black behind and it stands on spindly legs.

Experts are now going to find out how many of these strange animals exist.

The creature is a type of giant elephant shrew or sengi and lives on insects that it flicks up with its long nose.

Galen Rathbun with the new discovery (David Ribble)
Dr Rathbun holds the shrew
"This is one of the most exciting discoveries of my career," said Galen Rathbun, who was part of an international team which confirmed that the animal was a new species.

As well as having different colouring than any other elephant shrew, the new mammal is much larger, weighing 700g and measuring about 30cm in length.

Dr Rathbun said they were amazing: "They are not like a dog or cat you can interact with - but they are so bizarre-looking and a lot of their behavioural ecology is so unique and interesting, you kind of get wrapped up with them."



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