Extremely strong shrew

American short-tailed shrew

A new hero emerges: another exceptional mammalian spine and its potential adaptive significance. The hero shrew, Scutisorex somereni (Soricomorpha: Soricidae), was discovered in equatorial Africa in 1910, but its most fascinating feature was not noted for another 7 years, when discovered a massive spine with interlocking bony tubercles that fortify the lumbar region and are the only bone-on-bone articulation known in mammals. These interlocking processes derive from outpocketings of transverse and accessory processes, rendering the spine four times more robust (relative to body mass) than in any other vertebrate, and giving it five times the resilience to axial torsion of a typical mammalian backbone.

A new hero emerges: another exceptional mammalian spine and its potential adaptive significance.

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