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The order of mammals including rabbits, hares, and pikas. Lagomorphs have two pairs of upper incisors (the second pair minute), and enamel surrounds the tooth, which does not form a sharp chisel. Motion of the jaw is vertical or transverse. Lagomorphs have three upper and two lower premolars, the earliest fossil rodents have one less of each. The tibia and fibula are fused, the fibula articulating with the calcaneum as in artiodactyls. There is a spiral valve in the cecum, and the scrotum is prepenial.
The order includes three families: Leporidae (rabbits and hares); Ochotonidae (pikas, whistling hares, or American coneys); and Eurymylidae, an extinct family from the Paleocene of Mongolia. See Mammalia
Leporidae are the most familiar members of the order. There are, in general, two kinds: rabbits (such as the American cottontail), which are relatively small, with shorter hindlegs, shorter ears, and short tails; and hares, larger forms with longer legs, ears, and tails. Rapid locomotion is by leaps, using the hindlegs, combined (especially in rabbits) with abrupt changes of direction. Both types occur in the same region, with rabbits inhabiting brush, scrub, or woods and hares living in open grassland. In North America, hares are usually called jackrabbits.
an order of mammals close to the rodents.
There are two families of Lagomorpha, the pikas and the hares. They have two pairs of incisors in the upper jaw; body length is 12–75 centimeters, and weight varies from 0.1 to 4.5 kg. The typical manner of locomotion is rapid running by leaps. In color they are gray, sandy, brown, and dark brown; some species are lighter or completely white in the winter. They are found throughout the world, except for Antarctica, the southern extremities of South America, and Madagascar. They have become acclimated to Australia, New Zealand, and certain other oceanic islands. Lagomorpha inhabit various kinds of environments, including forests, brush thickets, open plains, and rocky deposits. Many species dig simple burrows and live in colonies. They are vegetarians and characteristically eat their own excrement (autocoprophagy), which permits more complete assimilation of food. They have commercial importance, since both their meat and their fur are exploited. Certain species are pests to agriculture and forestry, spreading carriers of various dangerous infections. As fossils they are known as far back as the Upper Paleocene period. The fundamental groups of contemporary Lagomorpha developed in the Pleistocene Age. Their origins are apparently connected with the family of Palaeolagidae.
REFERENCESGureev, A. A. Zaitseobraznye (Lagomorpha). (Fauna SSSR: Mlekopitaiushchie, vol. 3, fasc. 10.) Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Ognev, S. I. Zveri SSSR i prilezhashchikh stran, vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1940.
O. L. ROSSOLIMO