Inquisitive Shrew Mole
(Uropsilus investigator)
DD
Overview
This primitive mole is shrew-like in external appearance. It has a long scaly snout and a long slender tail, which is sometimes as long as the head and body. The forelimbs are small and not adapted for burrowing, and the claws are curved and weak. Unlike most moles its ears are conspicuous and extend beyond the head. Little is known about the ecology of this species since it has not been studied in the wild. It is restricted to small areas of suitable habitat that are deteriorating because of human activity.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Surveys to determine status and distribution, and further research into ecology, habitat and conservation requirements.
Distribution
Yunnan Province, southern China.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Soricomorpha
Family: Talpidae
The mole family Talpidae comprises three subfamilies: the moles (Talpinae) and shrew moles (Uropsilinae), which are mostly fossorial (diggers), and the semi-aquatic desmans (Desmaninae). Fossil members of the Talpidae are known from the early Eocene in Europe (over 50 million years ago), the early Oligocene of North America (35 million years ago), and the late Miocene in Asia (10 million years ago). The Asiatic shrew-moles (Uropsilinae) are believed to be the most primitive members of the Talpidae. There are four species in a single genus (Uropsilus): U. andersoni (Anderson’s shrew-mole), U. gracilis (gracile shrew-mole), U. soricipes (Chinese shrew-mole) and U. investigator (inquisitive shrew-mole). U. investigator is very similar in appearance to U. gracilis, and was formerly considered to be the same species. It is now generally regarded as a distinct species.
Description
Size: 
Head and body length: 67-83 mm
Tail length: 54-75 mm
Weight: approx. 12-20 g
This primitive mole is shrew-like in external appearance. It has a long scaly snout and a long slender tail, which is sometimes as long as the head and body. The fur is dark grey or brown coloured above and greyish below. The hands are small and not adapted for burrowing, and the claws are curved and weak. The ears are conspicuous and extend beyond the head.
Ecology
The ecology of this species has not been studied in the wild.
Habitat
Unknown. The single specimen from which this species is known was collected at 3,600 m. Its ecology is possibly similar to the Chinese shrew-mole (U. soricipes), which is partly sympatric in its distribution and inhabits forest and alpine regions.
Distribution
Population Estimate
Unknown.
Status
Classified as Endangered (EN B1+2c) on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Threats
Apparently restricted to small areas of suitable habitat that are deteriorating because of human activity.
Conservation Underway
There are no conservation measures in place.
Conservation Proposed
The IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group recommends that field surveys be carried out to determine the status of this species. More information about the distribution, ecology, habitat and conservation requirements of this poorly known species is urgently required.
References
Insectivore Specialist Group 1996. Uropsilus investigator. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 09 August 2006.

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Stone, D. (Compiler). 1996. Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews: Status, Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switerzland.

Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.

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