Most of us have seen movies where, with the single beam of a gunlike device, a mad scientist in a white lab coat shrinks large-bodied animals to the size of an ant. Were elephants and elephant shrews victims of such a fantastic fate?

From the time of their first description in 1800, elephant shrews (Macroscelidea) were considered related to shrews and other insectivores along with tenrecs (Tenrecidae) and golden moles (Chrysochloridae), whereas elephants (Proboscidea) were originally placed more or less close to ungulates such as hippos and rhinos (the now obsolete Pachydermata). Since then, paleontologists have unearthed numerous fossil relatives...

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