Aardvark
Aardvark

Aardvark

Aardvark

The aardvark is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata, although other prehistoric species and genera of Tubulidentata are known. It is sometimes colloquially called “African antbear”, “anteater”, or the “Cape anteater” after the Cape of Good Hope. The name comes from earlier Afrikaans and means “earth pig” or “ground pig”, because of its burrowing habits. The aardvark is not closely related to the pig; rather, it is the sole recent representative of the obscure mammalian order Tubulidentata, in which it is usually considered to form one variable species of the genus Orycteropus, the sole surviving genus in the family Orycteropodidae. The aardvark is not closely related to the South American anteater, despite sharing some characteristics and a superficial resemblance. The similarites are based on convergent evolution. The closest living relatives of the aardvark are the elephant shrews, along with the sirenians, hyraxes, tenrecs, and elephants. With their extinct relatives, these animals form the superorder Afrotheria, and finally in the larger group, Ungulata. Studies of the brain have shown the similarities with Condylarthra. The scientific name of the aardvark comes from Greek ορυκτερόπους (orykterópous) meaning “digging footed” and afer: from Africa.

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