The cover image for iOS 7 Programming Cookbook is the Cowan’s shrew tenrec (Microgale cowani). One of 20 known species of Microgale native to Madagascar, Cowan’s shrew tenrec is 4 to 6 inches in length and weighs less than an ounce, with a tail smaller than its body. Because it has poor eyesight, the shrew tenrec instead uses its stiff, sensitive whiskers and a keen sense of smell to navigate the dense tropical rainforests of eastern Madagascar. The tenrecs are one of the few mammals that retain a cloaca, a single urogenital opening that was characteristic of the earliest known mammals and the modern day platypus and marsupials.
An insectivore like many tenrecs, Cowan’s shrew tenrec is also known to eat small mammals and earthworms. Its natural predators include larger tenrecs and Madagascan red owls, although it can evade most predators by hiding in the leafy underbrush of the forest floor, where it also forages for insects.
Some speculate that the tenrecs migrated to Madagascar from Africa through oceanic dispersal, or rafting over, after the island had broken off from the continent 165 million years ago. The earliest known tenrecs appeared on the island some 60 million years ago and have evolved into widely diversified species, having arrived at a time when there were no other mammals. Thus, with little to no competition, they came to dominate their ecological niche. Most African tenrecs have disappeared and are known only through fossils. The larger tenrecs of Madagascar ...