tree shrew

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tree shrew,

small, arboreal mammalmammal,
an animal of the highest class of vertebrates, the Mammalia. The female has mammary glands, which secrete milk for the nourishment of the young after birth. In the majority of mammals the body is partially or wholly covered with hair; the heart has four chambers, and
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 of the family Tupaiidae, found in S Asia. The 17 known species of tree shrews are classified as the order Tupaioidea or Scandentia. Tree shrews superficially resemble squirrels, and are commonly brown, gray, or olive in color. They have large eyes, good vision, and can use their clawed forepaws effectively for holding food. Tree shrews are territorial, omnivorous, and extremely active; they dart about constantly in the trees screaming and fighting with one another. The common tree shrew, Tupais glis, looks like a squirrel with an elongated, shrewlike snout. Its body is about 8 in. (20 cm) long, and it has a bushy tail about 6 in. (15 cm) long. It is found from India to Malaysia. The pen-tailed tree shrew, Ptilocercus lowi, of Sumatra, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula is the most distinctive tree shrew; it is a mouse-sized nocturnal animal, dark gray above and yellow below, with a naked, black tail bearing two fringes of white hair at the tip. Tree shrews bear some anatomical resemblance to both the true shrewshrew,
common name for the small, insectivorous mammals of the family Soricidae, related to the moles. Shrews include the smallest mammals; the smallest shrews are under 2 in. (5.1 cm) long, excluding the tail, and the largest are about 6 in. (15 cm) long.
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, which is an insectivoreinsectivore
, term broadly given to any insect-eating animal or plant. The term also refers to mammals of the former order Insectivora, in which was included the shrew, mole, hedgehog, tenrec, and solenodon.
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, and to the lemurlemur
, name for prosimians, or lower primates, of two related families, found only on Madagascar and adjacent islands. Lemurs have monkeylike bodies and limbs, and most have bushy tails about as long as the body. They have pointed muzzles and large eyes.
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, which is a primateprimate,
member of the mammalian order Primates, which includes humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians, or lower primates. The group can be traced to the late Cretaceous period, where members were forest dwellers.
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. Tree shrews are now seen as a possible model for early primate behavior. They are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Scandentia, family Tupaiidae.


See R. D. Martin, Primate Origins and Evolution (1990).