Weird Evolution: Mammalian Quill Communication

Believe it or not, those white quills are for communication. The streaked tenrecs of Madagascar are the only known species of mammal to communicate by stridulation, or rubbing body parts together, something typically observed in insects. A BBC film crew recently filmed this behavior for the first time and it’s a weird one.

Tenrecs inhabited Madagascar with no competition from other mammals and thus evolved to fill a variety of niches in a process known as adaptive radiation, which produced around 30 distinct species. The most famous example of this are the finches of the Galapagos Islands that first inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.


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