Common Name Aardvark

Scientific Name: Orycteropus afer

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Tubulidentata

Family: Orycteropodidae

Genius: Orycteropus

Species: O. afer

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The most distinctive characteristic of the Tubulidentata is (as the name implies) their teeth, which, instead of having a pulp cavity, have a number of thin tubes of dentine, each containing pulp and held together by cementum. The teeth have no enamel coating and are worn away and regrow continuously.

The Aardvark is born with conventional incisors and canines at the front of the jaw, but these fall out and are not replaced. Adult Aardvarks have only molars at the back of the jaw. The Aardvark is only vaguely pig-like; the body is stout with an arched back; the limbs are of moderate length. The front feet have lost the pollex (or 'thumb')—resulting in four toes—but the rear feet have all five toes. Each toe bares a large, robust nail which is somewhat flattened and shovel-like, and appears to be intermediate between a claw and a hoof. The ears are disproportionately long, and the tail is very thick at the base and gradually tapers. The greatly elongated head is set on a short, thick neck, and the end of the snout bears a disc, which house the nostrils. The mouth is small and tubular, typical of species that feed on termites. The Aardvark has a long, thin, protractible tongue and elaborate structures supporting a keen sense of smell.

Weight is typically between 40 and 65 kg; length is usually between 1 and 1.3 m. The Aardvark is a pale yellowish gray in color, often stained reddish-brown by soil. The coat is thin and the animal's primary protection is its tough skin; the Aardvark has been known to sleep in a recently excavated ant nest, so well does it protect them.

Author: Parker S.

Published:2010