If you're a fan of elephants and tiny things (which, let's face it, everyone is), then you will be as excited by this as we are: scientists in California have discovered a new species of mammal called the round-eared elephant-shrew. At first sight, the furry, tiny, adorable creature might look a bit like your average little mouse, but don't be fooled. Look a little harder and you'll notice its long trunk, long tail and round ears — turn your head to the side and sort of squint a bit, and you'll see it. A fuzzy, iddy-biddy elephant. Kinda. The new mammal — which is 7.5 inches long (including its tail) and weighs less than an ounce — is technically called Macrosceildes Micus (we like to refer to it as Mac the Mouse, for short). It's a native of southwestern Africa, and was discovered recently in a remote desert in Namibia by Jack Dumbacher and Galen Rathbun (the remoteness of the area might be one reason why it's taken so long to discover the species, the scientists speculated). Their findings will be published in the Journal of Mammology.Although the round-eared elephant shew looks vaguely similar to other shrews — a type of small mammal that's extremely common in Britain and northern Europe, and can eat their own body weight in a single day — the newly-discovered type of elephant shrew is smaller, and is an unusual reddish color. It's also got an unmistakeably long "elephant trunk" — which, as it turns out, is because the furry little ball cuteness is actually genetically more similar to elephants than shrews.
"It turns out this thing that looks and acts like shrews that evolved in Africa is more closely related to elephants," said Dumbacher, a curator of birds and mammals at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, according to Reuters.
The round-eared elephant shrew is the third new type of sengi discovered over the last decade. Deceptively adorable, sengi are in fact incredibly capable: they can jump up a distance over three times their body length, and don't make burrows, but instead sleep for only 2-3 minutes at a time. They're also impressively speedy, using their long hind-legs to cross vast areas in very little time. The Macrosceildes Micus is the smallest type of sengi ever discovered. And have we mentioned it's adorable?