Scandentia (Tree Shrews)


Tree shrews constitute an order of placental mammals known as Scandentia, represented by about 18 living species native to southern and southeastern Asia. Roughly similar in appearance to squirrels, tree shrews are scansorial omnivores that are equally adept on the ground and in the trees. Although tree shrews have often been considered the nearest living relatives of primates, this distinction may belong to dermopterans instead.

Keywords: scansorial climbing; phylogeny

Figure 1.

The skeleton of tree shrews (above) combines many generalized features that are probably primitive for placental mammals with some advanced traits that resemble primates. Aside from their more elongated snouts, tree shrews are squirrel‐like in their general external appearance (below). (Illustrations by Mark A. Kingler, 1998.)


Further Reading

Chopra SRK and Vasishat RN (1979) Sivalik fossil tree shrew from Haritalyangar, India. Nature 281: 214–215.

Emmons LH and Biun A (1991) Maternal behavior of a wild treeshrew, Tupaia tana, in Sabah. National Geographic Research and Exploration 7: 70–81.

Kawamichi T and Kawamichi M (1979) Spatial organization and territory of tree shrews (Tupaia glis). Animal Behaviour 27: 381–393.

Luckett WP (1980) Comparative Biology and Evolutionary Relationships of Tree Shrews. New York: Plenum Press.

Wible JR and Zeller U (1994) Cranial circulation of the pen‐tailed tree shrew Ptilocercus lowii and relationships of Scandentia. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 2: 209–230.

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How to Cite close
Beard, Chris(May 2001) Scandentia (Tree Shrews). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001559]