An Ancient Man-Eating Shrew?

By: The Scribe on Monday, May 13, 2013

deinogalerixOkay, so maybe the ancient shrew from the Late Miocene period wasn’t technically man-eating—and we’re not sure if it was even a carnivore at all—but it might as well have been! Its name, deinogalerix, comes from the ancient Greek words for “terrible” and “shrew,” and one look at its remains is enough to make any animal-lover take a step back!

The Deinogalerix lived on Gargano Island, part of Italy on what is now called the Gargano Peninsula. The island is known for having been home to several species of larger-than-usual creatures during prehistoric times, all of which evolved very differently here than their relatives elsewhere in the world.

Deinogalerix had a 20cm long skull, with the rest of the body covering another 40cm. It would have looked like a hairy, rat-like hedgehog without quills—with a long, conical face, a long tail, long hair, and tiny pointed ears.

They may have lived off bugs like crickets, beetles, and dragonflies, though the bigger the creature grew? The more likely it is to have eaten small mammals, or birds and reptiles. With a jaw of at least 20cm, that’s certainly believable!

deino2Fossils of these creatures have been found in caves on the Gargano Peninsula, dating back to 15 million years ago.

A new study on these fossils was released in the journal Geobios in January 2013—so it may only be a matter of time before we know plenty more about the giant, terrible shrew of prehistoric times!


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