Evolution and systematics

The Nesophontid shrews comprise one family, Nesophon-tidae, one genus, Nesophontes, and eight species, namely: Puerto Rican nesophontes (Nesophontes edithae); slender Cuban nesophontes (Nesophontes longirostris); greater Cuban nesophontes (Nesophontes major); lesser Cuban nesophontes (Nesophontes submicrus); western Cuban nesophontes (Nesophontes minus); Atalaye nesophontes (Nesophontes hypomicrus); Haitian nesophontes (Nesophontes zamicrus); and St. Michel nesophontes (Nesophontes paramicrus).

Present scientific knowledge places family Nesophontidae closest to the solenodons (family Solenodontidae), of which two species survive in Cuba and Hispaniola. Nesophontidae are also considered to be closely related to the more generalized shrew species of the family Soricidae, which they most physically resemble.

The scientific jury is still out on the exact origins of the Nesophontidae. One or more founder species may have rafted on vegetation to the Antilles from the mainlands of North or Central America, or they may have been carried along on dry land as plate tectonic movements separated the proto-Antilles

Islands from Central America (vicariance). In either scenario, there may have been secondary colonization after the Antilles became an isolated archipelago; Nesophontidae species already on the Antilles may have rafted among some of these islands, colonized them, and produced new species.

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