It may seem hard to believe that such an unusual looking animal has remained hidden for so long.
But scientists have only just discovered a new species of elephant shrew – or round-eared sengi - in the remote deserts of south western Africa.
While it is the smallest known member of the 19 sengis in the order Macroscelidea, the small creature is in fact genetically more closely related to an elephant than a true shrew.
The Etendeka round-eared sengi was discovered by scientists from the California Academy of Sciences. It is the third new species of elephant shrew to be found in the wild in the past decade.
The diminutive animal is smaller than other sengi and has rust-coloured fur, a large, hairless gland on the underside of its tail and lacks dark skin pigment, according to the study published in the Journal of Mammalogy.
Its unusual appearance attracted the attention of experts Jack Dumbacher and Galen Rathbun, who noted it looked different from any museum specimens they had encountered.
圆耳象鼩独特的外表吸引了Jack Dumbacher和Galen Rathbun两位科学家，他们发现这种动物和他们之前看到过的任何一种博物馆样本都不一样。
Genetic analysis showed important differences between this specimen and close relatives.
Together with experts from the National Museum of Namibia and the Republic of Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism, they scoured museums for similar animals and conducted more genetic tests, before confirming that they had found a new species.
‘The differences between this and all other known species are very subtle,’ said Dr Dumbacher.
Elephant shrews are restricted to Africa and despite their small size, are more closely related to elephants, manatees (known as sea cows) and aardvarks than they are to true shrews.