Saturday, 12 February 2011

Evolution and communication

Unique hedgehog-like mammals have been filmed using their quills to communicate.
A BBC film crew captured footage of the streaked tenrecs in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar.By rubbing together specialised quills on their backs, the tenrecs made high pitch ultrasound calls to each other in the forest undergrowth.The lowland streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) resembles both a hedgehog and a shrew with black and yellow stripes, and is found only in Madagascar.
Scientists have theorised that tenrecs could also be using high pitched calls to echolocate in the dark forest, finding their way with sound rather than sight in a similar way to bats.The film crew were also hoping to record evidence of a particularly bizarre audio behaviour, unique to streaked tenrecs.
In the 1960s, streaked tenrecs were found to communicate using specialised quills on their backs, rubbing them together to make high pitch ultrasound calls.The rich diversity of tenrecs on is explained by scientists as evidence of the Darwinian theory of "adaptive radiation". They propose that the tenrecs evolved from a single ancestor 60 million years ago, possibly a mammal that floated across the sea from mainland Africa. With no other mammals on the island at the time, the different species of tenrecs are thought to have evolved into a diverse family as they adapted to Madagascar's wide variety of environments, free from competition.

This of course will get cryptozoologists thinking about how some cryptids might communicate. Isn’t evolution fantastic?

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