It would be easy to assume two species of solenodon, found on the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola and Cuba, are just shrews with long noses. They're small and clumsy and dully colored--but they're actually one of the rarest and weirdest mammals on the planet. The solenodon is one of the very few mammals to produce its own venom, which flows up through grooves in the incisors in its bottom jaw.
The solenodon is found in the fossil record from a whopping 76 million years ago, basically unchanged. That's about when primitive manatees split from primitive elephants. And it's so old that the two species, the Cuban and Hispaniolan solenodons, split from each other about 25 million years ago--about the time that early hominids split from Old World monkeys.