aardvark [key] [Du.,=ground pig], nocturnal mammal of the genus Orycteropus, sole representative of the order Tubulidentata. There are two species, one in central Africa and the other in S Africa. The aardvark, about 6 ft (180 cm) long, has a long snout, large erect ears, an almost naked or sparsely haired body, and a long tail. Its forefeet are adapted for making burrows in the ground and for clawing open the nests of ants and termites in order to capture the insects with its long sticky tongue. Its cylindrical teeth are continuously growing and without enamel or roots. The aardvark resembles the New World anteaters but is not closely related to them. It is also called ant bear or earth pig. Aardvarks are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Tubulidentata, family Orycteropodidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology