Aardvark

To fossil animal
To future animal

aardvark.jpg
Source 1 photo of aardvark from National Geographic


Introduction



The word Aardvark is from Afrikaans for 'earth pigs' or 'grand pig'. Aardvark is a medium sized, burrowing animal. The aardvark is vaguely pig-like in appearance. Its body is stout with an arched back and is sparsely covered with coarse hairs. The limbs are of moderate length. Their Body to head length is about 3 to 4 feet, tail is 1 to 2 feet long and they weight 90-145 lbs. Aardvark is originally from Africa. They are the only living species of all Tubulidentata. The closest living relatives of aardvark are elephant’s shrews, along with the terraces, elephants and sirenians (Afrotheria). Their ears are very long; the tail is very thick at the base and gradually tapers. The greatly elongated head is set on a short, thick neck, and the end of the snout bears a disc, which houses the nostrils. The front feet have only 4 toes, but the rear feet have all 5 toes. Each toe bears a robust nail its foot appears to be intermediate between a claw and a hoof. The mouth is small and tubular, typical of species that feed on termites. The aardvark has a thin, long, snakelike, protruding tongue and elaborate structures supporting a keen sense of smell. The aardvark is listed as Least Concern in the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. People sometimes kill aardvarks for meat or to use their body parts, such as claws and teeth, for charms and medicinal purposes. In certain areas, they have become extinct. Having such a limited diet makes them very vulnerable to changes in the environment.














General Information
Scientific Classification single.jpg

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Super-order
Afrotheria
Order
Tubulidentata
Family
Orycteropodidae
Genus
Orycteropus
Species
O.afer


Habitat and range


Aardvarks are originally from Sub-Saharan Africa but Aardvark can also be found in all regions. Aardvark is a solitary creature and feed mostly on ants and termites so they prefer soft and sandy soil in order to dig holes. They can be found in dry savannah, rain forest, woodland, grassy plains.

The second reason why aardvarks prefer to live in areas that provides soft and sandy soil is because that they live in underground burrows which go from 6.5 - 9.8 feet long. Aardvark spends most of the day curled up in its burrow asleep. However, it can occasionally be spotted venturing outside in the daylight on a cold afternoon, or early in the morning when it may sun itself by the burrow’s entrance. It feeds almost exclusively on a smorgasbord of ant and termite species, and will forage for its meal by travelling in a zigzag path, inspecting a strip of ground about 30 meters wide with its snout, The young aardvark will remain in the burrow for about two weeks before starting to accompany its mother on night time foraging trips.

By the age of six months, the young can dig on itself, and by 12 months it has reached the size of an adult. Sexual maturity is obtained at about two years of age.


Source from exploringafrica.matrix.msu.edu/.../activity1.php Sub-Sahara Africa map
Source from exploringafrica.matrix.msu.edu/.../activity1.php Sub-Sahara Africa map
Sub-Saharan Africa:
Sub-Saharan Africa is a transitional zone between the Sahara and tropical savannah and forest savannah mosaic to the south, Arab world is also included in the Sub-Saharan Africa area. It has a large amount of black population, so it is also being called the "Black Africa". It includes regions south of the Sahara, also translates as 'land of the blacks'. It includes 34 countries such as: Central African Republic,Sudan,South Africa,Republic of Congo etc.

Climate in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Source from wikipedia the climate zones of Africa
Source from wikipedia the climate zones of Africa

(Climate zones of Africa, showing the ecological break between the desert climate of the Sahara and the Horn of Africa (red), the semi-arid Sahel (orange) and the tropical climate of Central and Western Africa (blue). Southern Africa has a transition to semi-tropical or temperate climates (green), and more desert or semi-arid regions, centered on Namibia and Botswana.)

Diet:

Aardvarks began eating termites thirty-five million years ago, and that's still their preferred meal. Even a hill of termites may not be enough to satisfy an aardvark, so an aardvark searches for entire termite colonies. The colonies march in columns 33 to 130 feet (10 to 40 meters) long, which is easier for the aardvark to such the termite through its nostrils. When an aardvark attack a termite mound, the aardvark starts digging at the bas with his front claws. Once the termites begin escaping from underground, it extends its tongue and traps them with its sticky saliva. Aardvarks also eats locusts ( a type of grasshopper) and ants.







A Diagram of an aardvark:
MediaOne2.jpg
Labelled Diagram of An Aardvark








Behavioural Adaptation Of Aardvark (1)

Nocturnal activity patterns:

Aardvark lives in Sub-Sahara Africa area, which has a very low rain-fall. They can meet their water requirement through their diet. During some of the seasons which has a higher temperature and less water resources. Aardvarks will stay under their burrows for a longer period of time. Nocturnal activity patterns allow aardvark to conduct their digging activities under cooler conditions, thus avoiding hyperthermia due to body heat production during their digging activities, while diurnal activity patterns for most prey species means that they are inactive when foraging, therefore, this can be acquired more efficiently.
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Environmental pressure to this adaptation

Condition in Sub-Sahara Africa area has always been extremely hot and dry, also with not much rain-fall. This adaptation can reduce the loss of water from their body during the activities such as digging, and avoiding hyperthermia during the hot day time.

Behavioural Adaptation Of Aardvark (2)

Solitary behaviour:

They only meet up with other individuals occasionally or at times of breeding. They are predominantly nocturnal, but they are known to come out in the afternoon in cold climate and weather. During the day, they stay inside their burrow and rest. Typically, aardvarks excavate their own burrows; they renovate and utilize existing burrows when changing burrows. They are active every night; meanwhile, they are active above ground searching for food. Aardvarks do not vocalize, but instead indicate their presence by scent marking their home ranges with a scent gland.
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Environmental pressure to this adaptation

There are all other kinds of wild animals such as lions, tigers, and foxes etc which are offensive to aardvarks. These animals which are mentioned above are more aggressive and have a better chance to penetrate an aardvark. These animals are less active during the night time and if aardvark starts to work at night, there will be a less chance being attacked by other animals.

Structural Adaptation Of Aardvark (1)

Big, sharp claws on the front foot:

Aardvark have sharp claws on the front for a various of reasons. They uses claws when they are under attack by the enemies, such as leopards, lions and hyenas even people sometimes hunt for their meat. Aardvark flesh is relished by several African tribes and many parts of the aardvark body are used as charms: the teeth are believed to prevent illness and bad. When they understand that they are under attack, they would dig into ground in lighting speed, covering them with dirt, making sure that the enemies have left until they appear on the ground level again. When they need to excrete, they dig a hole which is distance from their burrow and also covering themselves with dust while they are excreting. During rain, aardvark digs a new burrow every night as their shelter. Due to global warming, more rain may occur during some seasons; this may rise to the use of the claws to dig new burrows more frequently in order to provide a safe shelter for the aardvarks.

external image 8811b4662c1c1e9f4e875a0fecaf4749.jpg
Environmental pressure to this adaptation

Due to global warming, more rain may occur during some seasons; this may rise to the use of the claws to dig new burrows more frequently in order to provide a safe shelter for the aardvarks. Also there are a lot of other animals hunting for them as food, so they need to have sharp claws in order to defend themselves.

Structural Adaptation Of Aardvark(2)

Thin, long, snakelike, protruding tongue:

During night time, aardvarks are active for searching for food.To meet its diet, aardvarks travel miles to search for food. They use front claws digging into the soil ground, look for ants especially their favorite food-termites. Once they have spotted an underground ant nest, they use their front claws to do destruction to it. When the ants are escaping from the nest, aardvarks would use their thin, long, snakelike, protruding tongue which has sticky mucus on it and try to stick the ants onto its tongue. It allows the aardvark to scoop out ants from underground ant nests. It can take up to 50,000 insects in one night with its sticky tongue.
external image aardvark.jpg
Environmental pressure to this adaptation

Since ants nests are found under or below the ground level, after aardvark has used its claws to open or break through their nest. Ants would escape very quickly. Ants have a much smaller body mass and size compared to an aardvark. Aardvarks’ claws are unable to catch or capture the escaping ants very efficiently. Instead, a thin, long, snakelike, protruding tongue could do it much easier and more efficient so that an aardvark can have an enough amount of food everyday.

Physiological Adaptation Of Aardvark

Olfactory Lobes:

An aardvark have more olfactory lobes than any other mammal, this gives them a highly developed sense of smell and hearing ability. With these abilities, aardvarks can detect predators from a very long distance. Aardvarks have a scent gland in their groin area that resembles a scrotal sac, and produces musk- like yellow secretion. This is used for territorial marking and to signal the presence of the animal. Aardvark body temperature varies between 34 degrees Celsius when they are in active inside burrows and 37 degrees Celsius when they are active above ground level.
external image LimbicPP4T.jpg

Environmental pressure to this adaptation

There are a lot of active and more aggressive wild animals in the area where aardvark habitats such as lions, tigers, snakes etc. Aardvark cannot match up with these animals’ offensive power. So, aardvark will need to notice and escape from its burrow before any other attackers which is searching for aardvarks in order to survive and self-defense.

Referencing:

1) Enchanted Learning, mamals aardvark "all about aardvarks" earth pigs. Retrieved 20-6-2010 from http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mammals/aardvark/

2) African wildlife foundation, Home>aardvark. Retrieved 22-6-2010 from http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/aardvark

3) Wikipedia Aardvark wiki. Retrieved 23-6-2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aardvark

4) Free Encylopedias, Aardvark: Tubulidentata - Habitat. Retrieved 23-6-2010 from http://animals.jrank.org/pages/3202/Aardvark-Tubulidentata-HABITAT.html

5) Animal corner: Aardvark hibitat rainforest aardvark. Retrieved 23-6-2010 from http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/rainforests/aardvark.html