Hyracoidea(redirected from hyracoids)
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an order of primitive herbivorous mammals (hyraxes). The body of one of these animals is 30–60 cm long, the tail is 1–3 cm long, and the weight may be as much as 4.5 kg. In outward appearance and tooth structure the hyrax is similar to a rodent, but it is related to the elephant in origin. The body is awkward; the head is large, the neck short and thick, and the extremities short and plantigrade. The fur is thick. On the middle of the back there is a section of long hair of a different color, in the center of which there is a bare area whose surface is covered with the ducts of tubular glands. These glands secrete a substance exuding a strong smell during the mating season. The forelimbs have four toes with flat claws and the hind limbs have three. The incisors of the upper jaw grow constantly and are similar to the incisors of rodents; each half of the upper and lower jaw has seven molars and there are no canine teeth. There are three genera comprising nine species. They are found in the Near East (Syria, Israel, and Arabia) and in northern and southern Africa. Members of the genera Procavia and Heterohyrax are diurnal animals living in groups of five to 50 individuals in arid savannas and rocky fields, in mountains up to an altitude of 4,500 m. Members of the genus Dendrohyrax are nocturnal arboreal animals living in families. Each litter contains one to six young animals.
O. L. ROSSOLIMO