views updated May 21 2018

Tupaiidae (tree shrews; cohort Unguiculata, order Insectivora or (more correctly) Scandentia) A family and order of small, generally arboreal, somewhat squirrel-like mammals, which show characteristics resembling those of primates, with which some authorities still classify them although it is now generally accepted that similarities to primates are illusory or convergent. The brain is relatively large, with a small olfactory region, a postorbital bar is present in some forms, the ears are small and rounded, the hallux is slightly opposable, and the digits bear claws. There are three lower incisors, procumbent and pressed together to form a lemur-like ‘dental comb’. The cheek teeth are primitive. Tree shrews feed on insects and fruit, and are distributed throughout India and south-east Asia. There are five genera, with about 15 species.

tree shrew

views updated May 18 2018

tree shrew See TUPAIIDAE.