Definitions

anteater

anteater

[ant-ee-ter]
anteater, name applied to various animals that feed on ants, termites, and other insects, but more properly restricted to a completely toothless group of the order Edentata. There are four species classified in three genera, all found in tropical Central and South America. The great anteater, or ant bear (Myrmecophaga), has an elongated, almost cylindrical head and snout, a long sticky tongue, a coarse-haired body about 4 ft (1.2 m) long, and a long, broad tail. The large, sharp claws on the forefeet are weapons of defense and are used to open the hard earth mounds of termites and ants, which are then picked up on the saliva-coated tongue. The tongue extends to a length of about 2 ft (60 cm). The collared, or lesser, anteater (Tamandua), less than half the size of the great anteater, is a short-haired yellowish and black arboreal creature. The arboreal two-toed anteater (Cyclopes) is the size of a squirrel and has a prehensile tail and silky yellow fur. Other animals called anteater are members of other groups. The banded anteater of Australia is a marsupial; the spiny anteater, also of Australia, is a monotreme related to the platypus. For the scaly anteater, see pangolin. True anteaters are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Edentata, family Myrmecophagidae.
Anteaters are the four mammal species of the suborder Vermilingua commonly known for eating ants and termites. Together with the sloths, they compose the order Pilosa. The name "anteater" is also colloquially applied to the unrelated aardvark, numbat, echidna, and pangolin.

Species include the Giant Anteater Myrmecophaga tridactyla, about 1.8 m (6 ft) long including the tail; the tamandua or collared Anteater Tamandua tetradactyla, about 90 cm (3 ft) long; and the Silky Anteater Cyclopes didactylus, about 35 cm (14 in.) long.

The term "spiny anteater" is used to refer to echidnas, which consist of the Tachyglossidae family of the order Monotremata.

Classification

Order Pilosa

Gallery

References

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