Weekend Round-Up: Spying Artists, Hero Shrews, and Tricky Photographers

In times such as those through which we are all now living, it is always heartening to see a small creature showing more than a little backbone. So, presented for your consideration, I give you the hero shrew. Brought to you by Wired’s “Absurd Animal Of The Week,” (one of the Internet’s most constant sources of pleasurable reading) the hero shrew (Scutisorex somereni), a native of the Congo basin, has one of the most bizarre spines in the animal kingdom. Each of the individual vertebrae has a number of bony projections, or spinal processes, which interlock with those of the adjacent vertebrae (most mammalian skeletons have vertebrae with just one spinous process; the hero shrew’s vertebrae have up to 20 each). The result is a spine so strong that this six-inch-long critter can stand having the weight of a grown human on its back (up to 160 lbs., according to one expedition) without harm. Perhaps even odder is that no one can quite figure out why it would need such a robust skeleton – a small, but fascinating mystery of modern zoology.

– Jack Forster, Editor-in-Chief

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