Friday, 12 January 2018

Temerity of the tenrec

Lesser hedgehog tenrec © Peter J Stephenson
After human and mouse the tenrec was one of the first mammals to be sequenced (link here). When this was still in the works, the popular science magazine ScienceNews put a tenrec on the cover. The caption to the article read, "They're sequencing a what?" (here). 

Sadly the tenrec has had it's 15 minutes of fame. When Nature News and Comment ran a report on a recent study from the Chavan lab., it was headlined, "Armadillo, hedgehog and rabbit genes reveal how pregnancy evolved." Once the editors realized Echinops telfairi was a tenrec, this was shortened to "Armadillo and rabbit genes..."

The irony to this was that a previous paper from the lab. (OA here) wrote that their hypothesis - about implantation evolving from an inflammatory reaction - could be tested by looking at the basal eutherian clades Afrotheria and Xenarthra. The lecture on which Nature News and Comment was reporting showed this had now been addressed in a tenrec (Afrotheria) and an armadillo (Xenarthra).

The temerity of a tenrec dressing up like a hedgehog! 


  1. Thanks for that post and correcting the zoological obvious mistake in the article. Arun Chavan is a great graduate student but is still working in the Wagner lab and not the Chavan lab... :-) Gunter

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