Biologists have revealed the secrets of the tiny diving mammals, water shrews.

Iran PressSci & Tech: Biologists have uncovered the genetic secrets of the world's smallest diving mammals - water shrews.

According to the BBC report, using DNA samples to construct an evolutionary tree, scientists revealed that diving behavior evolved five distinct times in this group of insect-eating mammals.

The ability of these tiny, warm-blooded animals to dive and hunt in freezing water seems to defy evolutionary logic.

The findings are published in the online journal eLife.

To track this surprising evolutionary journey, the scientists collected DNA samples from 71 different species all belonging to a large group of related, insect-eating mammals, collectively called Eulipotyphla.

That latin term translates to 'the truly fat and blind'; it is a group of mammals that includes hedgehogs, moles and shrews.

The lead researcher Michael Berenbrink, from the University of Liverpool, explained that this is the change needed for an animal to store more oxygen in its muscles, so it can hold its breath underwater and hunt. That 'diving signature' occurred five distinct times in this group of animals.

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