Organism of the Day: Thor’s Hero Shrew
Ah, the Adorable, yet mighty Thor’s Hero Shrew (Scutisorex thori)!
These little guys were discovered recently. They are not a new genus, although they are awesome nonetheless. Hero Shrews are from Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The people living there, the Mangbetu, already had named these creatures Hero Shrews along way back. Why? Because the thing is practically indestructible. Simply put, Hero Shrews (Thor’s being the newest discovery) have spines where the lumbar vertebrae interlock (8 in Thor’s, 11 in the first described species, the African Hero Shrew S. somereni). They can have an enormous amount of weight on their backs, and emerge unscathed. The Mangbetu people display this by stepping on a shrew with a single leg for several minutes, and when they step off, the shrew runs away. Why they have spines of steel is unknown, but it has been hypothesized that they use it as a brace to push up heavy pieces of palm trees to access the nutrient rich grubs that live in them. They have the strongest spine of any mammal. Note: the first spine is of a typical shrew, the other 2 (b and c) belong to Hero Shrews, with the last being Thor’s Hero Shrew.
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