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While the bizarre and elusive aardvark (Orycteropus afer) may look vaguely similar in appearance to a pig (aardvark literally means ‘earthpig’ in Afrikaans), it is actually the only member of the order Tubulidentata. The aardvark has a stocky, arched body sparsely covered with bristly hair, a short neck, a long and muscular tail and long, pointed ears. The aardvark also has a flexible, tubular snout and a long, extensible tongue, which together are perfectly suited to searching out and consuming a diet of ants and termites. The thick skin of the aardvark ranges in color from pale yellowish-grey to pinkish, although this is often stained darker grey or reddish-brown from the soil in which it burrows. Its short, powerful limbs bear large, sharp, shovel-shaped claws, four on the forefeet, five on each hindfoot, which enables the aardvark to dig with ease. An expert digger, even in hard ground the aardvark can dig faster than several people with shovels. The aardvark swallows its food whole, grinding it up in a muscular area of its lower stomach instead of chewing.

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