‘New mouse species has elephant DNA,’ declared the headlines. It must have been hard to resist, considering the contrast in size between these animals. The wording conjures up images of runt elephants evolving into dwarf and then pocket pachyderms before shrinking so small that they could run up their bigger cousins’ trunks.
To further support the idea, the new species is part of a group called sengis, also known as elephant shrews.
Sadly, it’s all complete rubbish. Macroscelides micus is as closely related to elephants as aardvarks are. Yes, they share genes, but so do all creatures. Go back far enough and every living thing is related.
Part of the confusion arises because of the common name, which was probably given to them because of their long thin snouts.