Queen's University Belfast - Shrewd student identifies species

May 8, 2008

A PhD student has discovered a species of shrew in Ireland that was not previously thought to be native to the country. Dave Tosh has been studying the diet of the barn owl as part of his research in the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's University Belfast. A barn owl research officer from Bird Watch Ireland sent him regurgitated food remains from owls in Tipperary and Limerick to help with his study. Mr Tosh noticed a large shrew skull that was very different from Ireland's native pygmy shrew. He then found others. The finds established the greater white-toothed shrew, which had never been seen before in Ireland, as the third new mammal to be found on the island in almost 60 years. Its natural range is in part of Africa, France and Germany, and until now, the closest it has been spotted to Ireland is in the Channel Islands.

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