Zenkerellidae – Cameroon scaly-tail

A family that contains the world’s most mysterious mammal, Zenkerella which is also lovingly called “the ultimate Pokémon”

Formerly grouped alongside the scaly-tailed squirrels in the family Anomaluridae, Zenkerellidae has recently garnered attention as a distinct lineage deserving of its own taxonomic classification. Native to the dense forests of central Africa, these elusive rodents have long captured the curiosity of scientists and naturalists alike yet remain shrouded in mystery due to their cryptic behavior and elusive nature.

Despite numerous expeditions and research efforts, Zenkerella remains one of the least studied mammals in the world, with no confirmed sightings by scientists to date. The scarcity of documented observations has rendered Zenkerella a true enigma of the animal kingdom, leaving researchers with more questions than answers regarding its ecology, behavior, and evolutionary history.

In museums and scientific collections worldwide, only a handful of specimens belonging to Zenkerellidae are curated, totaling approximately eleven individuals. These rare specimens provide valuable insights into the morphology and anatomy of Zenkerella but offer limited information regarding its natural history and ecological niche.

The nocturnal and secretive lifestyle of Zenkerella further complicates efforts to study and understand this elusive rodent. Preferring the cover of darkness, Zenkerella ventures out under the veil of night, shrouded in secrecy as it navigates the dense undergrowth of its forest habitat. Such elusive behavior has confounded researchers and hindered efforts to observe Zenkerella in its natural environment, perpetuating the mystery surrounding this cryptic species.

Despite the dearth of observational data, scientists speculate that Zenkerella may exhibit dietary habits similar to those of its close relatives, the scaly-tailed squirrels. These arboreal rodents are known to feed on a variety of plant materials, including fruits, seeds, and foliage, supplemented occasionally with insects and other small invertebrates. However, without direct evidence or observational studies, the precise dietary preferences of Zenkerella remain speculative and subject to further investigation.

The taxonomic status and evolutionary relationships of Zenkerellidae also remain a topic of ongoing research and debate within the scientific community. Molecular phylogenetic analyses and morphological studies offer valuable insights into the evolutionary history of Zenkerella and its relationships to other rodent groups, shedding light on its unique position within the rodent family tree.