with arched back, like a pig, which animal it further resembles in that its skin is sparsely strewed with hairs. But its very long ears, instead of being pendent like those of the pig, rise like horns on both sides of the head; neither is the tail slender or twisted into a corkscrew curl; on the contrary, it is of conical shape and very thick at the base. Finally, the rather elongated head, terminating in a regular snout, has at its extremity a buccal opening rather larger than in the ant-eater, but yet far smaller than in swine. The teeth, numbering five or six pairs in the lower jaw and six or seven in the upper, increase in size from the first to the one before the last on each side. Their structure is peculiar, being far less dense than in most Mammalia, and having no coating of enamel. The grinding surface is flattened, and the single root is pierced with a number of holes in its periphery. The slender, protractile tongue is, as in nearly all of the Edentata, covered with a viscous substance designed to secure the small insects on which the animal lives. The short, heavy feet terminate, the anterior in four digits, the posterior in five, all armed with strong, hoof-like claws. In the posterior feet, as in the anterior, the external lateral digits are a little shorter than the others.
The family Orycteropidæ comprises only a single genus, in which we can, not without much difficulty, distinguish three species, viz.: the Cape orycteropus or earth-hog, the one first known; the orycteropus of Senegambia, described by Lesson; and the orycteropus of Ethiopia, studied by D'Abbadie and D'Arnaud on the banks of the White Nile. These three species are identical in their habits, of nearly the same size, 1·3 metre (about 52 feet) from the snout to the extremity of the skin, and of the same general form; they differ only in the proportions of the cranium and of the limbs, and in the color and appearance of the skin. Thus, in the Cape orycteropus, for instance, the surface of the body presents a scanty covering of straight, soft hairs, which are shorter on the back than on the belly. In the orycteropus of Ethiopia, on the other hand, the skin is almost perfectly nude, with merely a few straggling, brownish hairs on the ears, the tail, and the base of the limbs. To this species belongs the individual recently acquired for the Jardin des Plantes, and of which our figure is a faithful portrait. It will be seen that the body is swollen like a full skin-bottle, and furrowed with creases which radiate from the abdominal region between the paws. The latter are of enormous size, and the tail, which is soft and flabby, falls to the ground by its own weight. The general appearance of the animal is at once mean and grotesque. Looked at from behind, it resembles a bag, the long ears projecting on each side being the ends of the string by which the mouth of the bag is tied.
This orycteropus lives in pairs in the plains of Kordofan, where it is called by the Arabs abudelatif, i. e., "the father that owns claws." In the daytime it lies hidden and doubled up in a deep hole, which it digs in the loose soil of the plain by means of its broad, sharp claws. Toward