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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 platypusplatypus
, semiaquatic egg-laying mammal, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, of Tasmania and E Australia. Also called duckbill, or duckbilled platypus, it belongs to the order Monotremata (see monotreme), the most primitive group of living mammals.
..... Click the link for more information. . For the scaly anteater, see pangolinpangolin
, armored, toothless mammal of tropical Asia and Africa. Pangolins range in length from 3 to 6 ft (90–180 cm) including the long, broad tail. Their snouts are narrow and pointed.
..... Click the link for more information. . True anteaters are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information. , subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Edentata, family Myrmecophagidae.
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Any of several mammals, in five orders, which live on a diet of ants and termites.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. any toothless edentate mammal of the family Myrmecophagidae of Central and South America, esp Myrmecophaga tridactyla (or jubata) (giant anteater), having a long tubular snout used for eating termites
2. scaly anteater another name for pangolin
3. spiny anteater another name for echidna
4. banded anteater another name for numbat
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005