Aardvark

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The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) (afer: from Africa) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa.[2] It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata,[3] although other prehistoric species and genera of Tubulidentata are known.

It is sometimes called "antbear", "anteater", or "Cape anteater" (after the Cape of Good Hope). The word "aardvark" is famous for being one of the first entries to appear in many encyclopaedias and even abridged dictionaries. The name comes from the Afrikaans/Dutch[4] for "earth pig" or "ground pig" (aarde earth/ground, varken pig), because of its burrowing habits (similar origin to the name groundhog). The aardvark is not 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.[5] The closest living relatives of the aardvark are the elephant shrews, along with the sirenians, hyraxes, tenrecs, and elephants. Together with their extinct relatives, these animals form the superorder Afrotheria.

Contents

Description

One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Tubulidentata is their teeth. Instead of having a pulp cavity, each tooth has a cluster of thin, upright, parallel tubes of vasodentin (a modified form of dentine), with individual pulp canals, 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, which fall out and are not replaced. Adult aardvarks only have cheek teeth at the back of the jaw, and have a dental formula of: Upper: 0.0.2-3.3, lower: 0.0.2.3

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