|Aliases||African Ant Bear|
|Environment||Sub-Saharan Africa: bushland, grasslands, savannas, woodlands|
|Discoverer||Peter Simon Pallas|
|Reproduction||Sexual; gives live birth|
|Average Height||60 centimeters (24 in) tall at the shoulder|
|Average Weight||60 and 80 kilograms (130–180 lb)|
|Average Length||Sans Tail: 105 and 130 centimeters (3.44–4.27 ft)|
With Tail: Up to 2.2 meters (7 ft 3 in)
|Feeding Behavior||Insectivorous, Myrmecophagous
prefers termites most
|Prey||Ants, termites, supplemented with Aardvark Cucumber|
|Skin Color||Pale yellowish-gray|
|Fur Color||Brown (minimal covering)|
|Subspecies||All poorly defined: O.a. adametzi, O.a. afer, O.a. aethiopicus, O.a. angolensis, O.a. erikssoni, O.a. faradjius, O.a. haussanus, O.a. kordofanicus, O.a. lademanni, O.a. leptodon, O.a. matschiei, O.a. observandus, O.a. ruvanensis, O.a. senegalensis, O.a. somalicus, O.a. wardi, O.a. wertheri|
|Language(s)||Grunts, though is usually quiet|
|Members||Arthur Read, User: Parker Green (anthropomorphic versions)|
|Superphylum||Deuterostomia (Blastophore becomes anus)|
|Infraphylum||Gnathostomata (Jawed vertebrates)|
|Subclass||Theria (Mammals that give birth to live young without a shelled egg)|
|Infraclass||Placentalia (Placental mammals)|
|Superorder||Afrotheria (Mammals from Africa)|
|Status||Least concern (population decreasing)|
Aardvarks (/ˈɑːrdvɑːrk/ ARD-vark) (Orycteropus afer) is a species of burrowing nocturnal mammals indigenous to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the last remaining real life member of its order known to exist. Its closest living relatives are the elephant shrews, golden moles, and tenrecs. As Afrotheres, they are also related to hyraxes, elephants, and manatees.
Physiology[edit | edit source]
Aardvarks are medium-sized mammals that can be described as vaguely pig-like in appearance, though this is only superficial and the two organisms are not closely related to one another. Their body is stout, sparsely covered in coarse hairs, and has a prominently arched back. The skin is pale yellowish-gray but is oftentimes stained reddish-brown by the local soil. Limbs are of moderate length with the rear longer than the fore to give it a better position to feast upon its primary diet of ants and termites. Their front feet have lost the thumb, leaving only four toes tipped with large, robust nails intended for burrowing, leading to a somewhat flattened and shovel-like shape; they have been noted as being intermediate between a claw and a hoof. The rear legs still possess all five toes.
Aardvarks have an average mature length of between 105 and 130 centimeters (3.44–4.27 ft), but can reach lengths of up to 2.2 meters (7 ft 3 in) when its tail (which can be up to 70 centimeters (28 in)) is taken into account. They are 60 centimeters (24 in) tall at the shoulder, and have a girth of about 100 centimeters (3.3 ft). They can weigh on average between 60 and 80 kilograms (130–180 lb). Its tail is very thick at the base and gradually tapers.
Their head is a greatly elongated structure set upon a short, thick neck. Unique to other real life insectivores, it has a long pig-like snout that bears a nose disc to house the nostrils. These nostrils are surrounded by dense hair to help filter particulate matter out of them as it digs. Their nostrils contain more olfactory bulbs (9) than any other known mammal, giving them a keen sense of smell for sniffing out food; this is combined with a highly developed olfactory lobe in the brain itself. As the Aardvark eats, it can close up its nose to keep insects and dust from invading. The mouth is small and tubular in nature, similar to other myrmecophages. Their tongue is long, thin, and snakelike, and protrudes as much as 30 centimetres (12 in) in length. Their ears are disproportionately long (20–25 centimetres (7.9–9.8 in)) and are very effective. However the eyes are small for the head and consist only of rods.
Their coat is particularly thin in most parts of the body, and instead they use thick skin for protection. The hair is short upon the head and tail, though the legs tend to have longer hair. The hair on the majority of its body is grouped in clusters of 3-4 hairs.
The Aardvark has a muscular pyloric area to act as a gizzard for the stomach to grind up swallowed food, and thus they do not need to chew. Both sexes emit a strong smelling secretion from an anal gland. Its salivary glands are highly developed and almost completely ring the neck; their output is what causes the tongue to maintain its tackiness. The female has two pairs of teats in the inguinal region.
Behavior[edit | edit source]
It roams over most of the southern two-thirds of the African continent, avoiding areas that are mainly rocky. A nocturnal feeder, it subsists on ants and termites, which it will dig out of their hills using its sharp claws and powerful legs. It also digs to create burrows in which to live and rear its young.