1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aard-vark

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
For works with similar titles, see Aard-vark.

AARD-VARK (meaning 'earth-pig'), the Dutch name for the mammal of genus Orycteropus, confined to Africa (see Edentata). Several species have been named. Among them is the typical form, O. capensis, or Cape ant-bear from South Africa, extending into Egypt. In form these animals are somewhat pig-like; the body is stout, with arched back; the limbs are short and stout, armed with strong, blunt claws; the ears disproportionately long; and the tail very thich at the base and tapering gradually. The greatly elongated head is set on a short thick neck, and at the extremity of the snout is a disk in which the nostrils open. The mouth is small and tubular, furnished with a long extensile tongue. The measurements of a female, taken in the flesh, were head and body 4 ft., tail 17½ in.; but a large individual measured 6 ft in. over all. In colour the Cape aard-vark is pale sandy or yellow, the hair being scanty and allowing the skin to show; the northern aard-vark has still a thinner coat, and is further distinguished by the shorter tail and longer head and ears. These animals are of nocturnal and burrowing habits and generally found near ant-hills. The strong claws make a hole in the side of the ant-hill, and the insects are collected on the extensile tongue. Aard-varks are hunted for their skins; but the flesh is valued for food, and often salted and smoked.