Jun 24, 2010

These Kids Today

Looking at a streaked tenrec, you could be forgiven for wondering if the photographer had perhaps not caught the subject at its best. Surely this animal just rolled out of bed hungover after a wild party that ended up in an unfortunate amateur hair-bleaching event:

I know. You're thinking that if you turn him over and look at his belly, you'll also find a tattoo of his girlfriend's name that he'll regret someday, but that once he takes a shower and blow-dries that mess, he'll clean up nicely, right?

Sadly untrue. Here's a picture of the representative of this species at the newly renovated hall of mammals at the Smithsonian Institution. Presumably the best taxidermists in the country labored over this guy for weeks or months, and this is the best they could make it look:

(by Flickr user cliff1066)

Our friends at Zooilogix (from whence the first photo above) accuse this critter of looking like "a cross between a colorful sea slug and a shrew," but as they well know, it's related to neither. The tenrecs are a family of small mammals that have evolved to fill all sorts of ecological niches on the island of Madagascar. Since there are no hedgehogs there, there are hedgehog-like tenrecs, since there are no shrews, there are shrew-like tenrecs, and so on.

Since they're so flexible, then, the ugliness of the streaked tenrec is no accident. It's hard to see what evolutionary advantage lies in that appearance, but there must be something, because they could have instead chosen to be this cute:

(Hedgehog tenrec, by Flickr user artbandito.)

Well, I've gotten to the age where I look at how the teenagers dress and wonder how they attract mates, too. I guess ugly works for the streaked tenrec.

Submitted for your consideration by Wombat (No Relation).


Cat said...

I think the streaked tenrec is bad-ass! And I don't think it's that ugly either.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a cute fuzzy bee mammal!

biobabbler said...

I agree. I think it's adorable. =) Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

It could have evolved into the savage, saber-toothed, poison-spitting tenrec so maybe we should be thankful it's just ugly.

AnaDrea said...

I thought it was a ducking at first glance. An ugly one. I guess it's cute for a tenrec though?

Arachnophile said...

Comb your ... SPIKES young man!

Awesome find! :)

C.B. said...

That is one unique, adorable creature.

wombat said...

Huh, why isn't there a saber tooth poison spitting tenrec? I feel like evolution has let us down.