Nesophontes zamicrus

Nesophontes

The members of the genus Nesophontes, sometimes called West Indies shrews, were members of the extinct family of mammals Nesophontidae in the order Soricomorpha. This is the only genus described for this family. These animals were endemic to Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands. Although exact estimates are unavailable, these animals are widely believed to have survived the Pleistocene extinction since remains have been found among those of Rattus and Mus species. Some authorities estimate extinction coinciding with the arrivals of rats (Rattus spp.) aboard Spanish vessels in the early 16th century (1500). Others, such as Morgan and Woods, claim that some species survived until the early 20th century.

The West Indies shrews have only been described from fossil records and skeletal material in owl pellets found in the Greater Antilles. Recent efforts to locate surviving populations have been unsuccessful. Although some Nesophontes remains (in owl pellets) have been reported as fresh-appearing, radiocarbon dating has failed to support any post-15th century dates, suggesting that the nesophontids became extinct very rapidly at approximately the time of European discovery of the Greater Antilles.

These animals were insectivores.

Since Nesophontes species have only been observed through fossil records the exact number of species varies among authorities. Some claim as many as 12 valid species while other claim as few as six.

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