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duiker (dĪˈkər, dāˈ–) [key], name for members of a group of small, light antelopes, found in thick brush and forest over most of Africa. All stand under 25 in. (64 cm) high at the shoulder. They have arched backs, pointed faces, and short, sharp, straight horns; in most species the horns are present in both sexes. Solitary, mostly nocturnal animals, they dive into the brush when threatened; duiker means "diver" in Afrikaans. Although primarily browsers, they are less exclusively vegetarian than other antelopes. Their diet includes grasses, leaves, twigs, insects, and snails. The gray, or common, duiker, Sylvicapra grimmia, is found from Ethiopia to the Cape of Good Hope and W to Senegal. It stands up to 25 in. and weighs up to 30 lb (14 kg). The local races vary in color from fawn to bluish gray. Females are usually hornless. The many kinds of forest duiker and blue duiker are species of the genus Cephalophus. The blue duikers, found in W and central Africa, stand only 14 in. (36 cm) at the shoulder. Duikers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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