Order Scandentia – Tree Shrews

Animals of the order Scandentia are small, squirrel-like mammals living in the tropical rain forests of South and Southeast Asia. Interestingly, the name of the Genus of the tree shrews (Tupaia) derives from the Malay word “tupai” meaning “squirrels” or small animals that resemble squirrels. Originally, tree shrews were assigned to the order of Insectivores, then for 50 years they had been considered primates but recent studies have proved their special status and they were placed in their own order, called Scandentia. Most of the tree shrews (10 out of 18 known species) are found in the Borneo Island. The order encompasses species that are semi-terrestrial or semi-arboreal, diurnal or crepuscular, herbivorous or insectivorous. Tree shrews are more primitive than primates and scientists believe that their appearances and lifestyles are closer to those of the ancient ancestors of primates. In contrast to primates, all digits of the tree shrews have long, sharp claws rather than nails and the first toe is not opposable enough to be prehensile. Tree shrews have pointy snouts and moderately sized eyes that are located on the sides of their head. These animals have many small, sharp teeth that look similar to the teeth of insectivores.

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