Olympic Shrew

collected in 1981
RBCM 11014
Scientific Name:
Sorex rohweri

The Olympic Shrew, Sorex rohweri, reminds us that new species can be found even in developed parts of the world. Shrews are tiny and overlooked by many, but they are the subject of intense scientific study by shrewd scientists. New mammal species are rare in North America, and these specimens are highly prized new additions to the Royal BC Museum’s mammal collection.

Several species of shrew have been found in the southern interior of British Columbia, but these only represented northern range records of known species. In contrast, the Olympic Shrew as a species was described as recently as 2007, and they are absolutely new to science. Many Olympic Shrews, like the one pictured here, were originally identified as Common Shrews, Sorex cinereus. The new species was recognized after careful study of anatomy and genetics.

The Olympic Shrew can be found in Burns Bog, and a few other scattered sites south of the Fraser River, out along the Olympic Peninsula and south in the Cascade Range to the Columbia River. Because of habitat loss in the last 150 years to urban, agricultural and industrial development, Burns Bog represents critical refuge for Olympic Shrews in Canada.

This object selected by Dr. Gavin Hanke. View Profile »