The smallest mammal on Earth was smaller than a coin and has long since gone extinct.

Indricotherium is considered the largest mammal in the history of the Earth. These creatures lived in Asia approximately 34-23 million years ago and are considered the ancestors of modern rhinoceroses. Their height reached 4.8 meters, and their body weight could be 17 tons. They were herbivores and had a long neck, which helped them reach the leaves of tall trees. Scientists do not know exactly why they became extinct: the reason for the disappearance of indricotheres could be both climate change and the inability to produce large offspring. We know a lot about the largest mammals in the world, but what about the smallest? Now you will learn about them too!

The smallest mammal on Earth was smaller than a coin and became extinct long ago. The photo shows the smallest mammal that is smaller than a key. Image source: Photo.

The photo shows the smallest mammal that is smaller than a key. Image source:

If you want to learn more about Indricotherium, read the article about the largest mammals in the history of the Earth. But first read what is written below, it’s also interesting!

The smallest animal in the world

According to the scientific publication IFL Science, today the smallest mammal in history is considered to be an animal of the species Batodonoides vanhouteni. This creature, which is very similar to a shrew, has long been extinct – calculations show that they disappeared from the face of our planet approximately 53 million years ago.

The existence of such tiny mammals became known to science only in 1998. Finding their remains was very difficult because they are really very small – just imagine that the teeth of Batodonoides vanhouteni were 1 millimeter long! Based on the size of their teeth, scientists were able to calculate the body mass of these animals, and it was 1.3 grams.

The smallest animal in the world. The ancient shrew Batodonoides vanhouteni was smaller than modern species. Image source: Photo.

Based on this, scientists concluded that the shrews Batodonoides vanhouteni are the smallest mammals in the entire history of the Earth. There may have been other representatives of this class of vertebrates in the world, but scientists have not yet found their remains. Considering the tiny size of their skeleton, they may not find them.

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Who are they dwarf shrews

If we talk about the smallest mammal of our time, it is the dwarf shrew (Suncus etruscus). This tiny creature, like its ancestor who lived 53 million years ago, belongs to the shrew family. Even adult pygmy shrews weigh a maximum of 3 grams, and their body length does not exceed 4.8 centimeters. If you can't comprehend how small they are, here's an interesting fact: these amazing mammals are about 20 times lighter than a mouse.

Pygmy shrews do not live in Russia. But they can be found in Portugal, Spain, France and even in some regions of Kazakhstan. They can be recognized by their tiny, elongated body and sharply tapering proboscis. The head of dwarf shrews is larger than the body, and they also have very prominent ears. The body is covered with brownish-gray hair, the animal's whiskers are short but dense.

Who are the dwarf shrews? The dwarf shrew vaguely resembles a mole. Photo source: Photo.

The pygmy shrew vaguely resembles a mole. Photo source:

Pygmy shrews hide in rocks and the ruins of destroyed buildings. They can also be found in thickets growing along water bodies. In most cases, they dig holes themselves, but sometimes they can occupy the homes of other animals like moles. Tiny mammals are nocturnal, usually feeding on insects and worms.

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What do small animals eat

Due to their small body size, it may seem that pygmy shrews only need to eat one grasshopper to get enough food. In fact, they need to eat eight times their own weight in food every day. To satisfy their ravenous appetite, these big-eared babies have evolved powerful sensory organs that help them quickly find prey. These mammals have a lousy sense of smell and vision, but they are compensated by their hypersensitive whiskers.

What do small animals eat. The pygmy shrew eats an insect larva. Photo source: Tierfotoagentur/Alamy via Legion Media. Photo.

The pygmy shrew eats an insect larva. Photo source: Tierfotoagentur/Alamy via Legion Media

These shrews are also capable of delivering deadly blows at such a high speed that it is impossible to track them without special equipment. Another interesting feature of these animals is the way their cubs move – mothers link them in a line and accompany them from one point to another.

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If you want to know more about shrews, be sure to read our material “The smallest animals: who are they and where do they live?” In the same article we mentioned other tiny creatures, pig-nosed bats. They were discovered in 1973 and are very rare, so you have a unique chance to see them at least in photographs.