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The Superorder Afrotheria is based on molecular evidence
that indicates the relationship of tenrecs, golden moles, elephant shrews, aardvarks, and tethytheres ("Paenungulata" - elephants, sirenians, and
hyraxes). Tethytheres and possibly aardvarks had been considered to be ungulates.
- Family Tenrecidae (tenrecs, otter-shrews) Madagascar, Africa.
- Family Chrysochloridae (golden moles) Africa .
- Order Macroscelidea (elephant shrews) Africa.
- Order Tubulidentata (aardvark) Africa.
- Order: Hyracoidea (hyraxes, dassies) Africa, Arabia.
- Order: Proboscidea (elephants) Africa, SE Asia.
- Order: Sirenia
- Family Dugongidae (dugong) East Africa, Red Sea, N Australia.
- Family Trichechidae (manatees) tropical Atlantic coasts and adjacent
Family Macroscelididae [fig. 11.14]
- Ethiopian, North Africa
- long (especially distally) hind limbs, can move bipedally
- snout long, slender, movable at base
- large eyes, long ears
- generally diurnal
- mouse (50 g) to squirrel-sized (200)
Order PROBOSCIDEA [Figs. 18.1-18.7]
Learn more about Proboscideans from
- largest land mammal
- upper incisor evergrowing
- long proboscis present with nostrils
and finger-like projection at tip
- musth (p. 302
- infrasound (p. 302, 335)
Know how to tell the two species of elephant apart. [Fig. 18.1]
photograph by Rachel Ratcliff,
Kruger National Park, South Africa.
africana, the African elephant; Ethiopian zoogeographic region;
up to 6000 kg; photograph by Rachel Ratcliff, taken in Kruger National
Park, South Africa.
Evidence for two species of
African elephants published in Nature.
More from National
maximus-Indian or Asian elephant; Oriental zoogeographic
region, 5000 k; click on image to enlarge; ©2000
ZooNet/ Birmingham Zoo
Order SIRENIA [Figs. 18.13-18.17]
Learn more about sirenians from
Family Procaviidae [Figs. 18.8-18.12]
- Ethiopian, North Africa and Middle East
- medium-sized (marmot-like, rabbit sized)
- soles of feet with elastic pads for climbing trees or rocks
- arboreal hyraxes [Dendrohyrax]
- terrestrial hyraxes [Procavia, Heterohyrax]
- mesaxonic feet (like perissodactyls)
- many structural features in common with proboscideans
Family Orycteropodidae (fig 14.11)
- monotypic [Orycteropus afer]
- no incisors or canines
- cheek teeth homodont, columnar, consisting of vertical hexagonal
prisms of dentine surrounding pulp tubules
- an insectivorous ungulate: most massive of termite eaters (pig-sized --
up to 82 kg)
- excavate burrows 2-3 m. long
- highly developed sense of smell
- During dry months, dig up fleshy fruits of a cucurbit plant for
water. May be a symbiotic relationship. Aardvarks disseminate the