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West Indian 'shrews' (Family Nesophontidae)

West Indian 'shrews' were members of the genus Nesophontes, the only genus of the extinct family Nesophontidae in the order Soricomorpha. They were endemic to Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. They probably survived the Pleistocene extinction as remains have been found among those of rats (Rattus) and mice (Mus). They may have become extinct soon after rats (Rattus) arrived from Spanish vessels in the early 16th century [5]. Morgan and Woods claim that some species survived until the early 20th century.[2] Fossil remains and skeletal material in owl pellets have been found in the Greater Antilles and surrounding islands. No surviving populations have been found.[4] Radiocarbon dating does not support the idea that fresh-appearing remains in owl pellets indicate that the animals survived longer after the 15th century dates.[5]

West Indian 'shrews' were insectivores. There may be six to 12 valid species.[1]

The relationship of West Indian shrews to solenodons is unclear.[3]


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