Linzey, Donald W. Wytheville Community College, Wytheville, Virginia.
Last reviewed:March 2016
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- Morphology and diet
- Ecology and distribution
- Reproduction and development
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Any of several living mammals in the suborder Vermilingua in the order Pilosa that feed on ants and termites. The common name of anteater is assigned to four species of living mammals classified in the suborder Vermilingua in the order Pilosa (superorder Xenarthra) that live on a diet of ants and termites. There are also a number of other mammals that are sometimes referred to as anteaters, but these animals are not true anteaters; they include various species of echidnas (order Monotremata), numbats (order Dasyuromorphia), and pangolins (order Pholidota). The true anteaters, as well as the other mammals commonly called anteaters, are so named because they are insectivorous, feeding typically on a diet of ants and termites that they detect mainly by smell. The various anteaters provide a good example of the evolutionary concept of convergence, in which similar adaptations are made by organisms of different groups. See also: Adaptation (biology); Animal evolution; Mammalia; Monotremata; Pholidota
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