When it comes to super-strength, it makes sense to look for a superhero. This is true in nature, just as it is in comic books. In true superhero fashion, the extra-strong marvel of the animal world looks tiny and unassuming, but when put to the test, the hero shrew proves once again that looks can be deceiving.
The hero shrew (Scutisorex somereni) can be found in the Congo Basin of Africa. Fully grown, the hero shrew’s body is no more than 12-15 centimeters (4.7 – 5.9 inches) in length and weighs 70 – 113 grams (2.5 – 4.0 oz.). With such a small stature, one would expect the hero shrew to be somewhat fragile, but don’t make that mistake.
The hero shrew’s backbone is unique in the animal world. Its vertebrae interlock in such a way as to transform a seemingly-fragile creature into a superhero. The tiny shrew can support the weight of up to 72 kilograms (159 pounds). In other words, an adult man could stand on the tiny shrew in an effort to squash it, only to see the furry creature scamper away, unharmed.
Researchers have recently speculated that the hero shrew’s backbone is useful in allowing it to move heavy logs out of the way, allowing access to some of its favorite foods: earthworms and other invertebrates.