Tubulidentata (Aardvarks)


Tubulidentata is the only mammalian order that contains a single living species, the aardvark, Orycteropus afer. It has been called a ‘living fossil’ because it exhibits primitive anatomical characters that have shown little or no morphological change over about 20 million years. The ordinal name Tubulidentata is derived from tiny dentinal tubules found in the chewing surfaces of its teeth. Tubulidentata probably originated in Africa and has its roots in a group of extinct archaic ungulates known as the condylarths.

Keywords: aardvark; ‘condylarths’; fossorial; ‘living fossil’; Tubulidentata

Further Reading

Clark WEL and Sonntag CF (1926) A monograph of Orycteropus afer – III. The skull. The skeleton of the trunk and limbs. General summary. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 30: 445–485.

de Jong WW, Zweers A and Goodman M (1981) Relationship of aardvark to elephants, hyraxes, and sea cows from alpha‐crystallin sequences. Nature 292: 538–540.

Goldman CA (1986) A review of the management of the aardvark Orycteropus afer in captivity. International Zoological Yearbook 24/25: 286–294.

MacPhee RDE (1994) Morphology, adaptations, and relationships of Plesiorycteropus, and a diagnosis of a new order of eutherian mammals. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 220: 1–214.

McKenna MC, Bell SK, Simpson GG et al., (1997) Classification of mammals above the species level. New York: Columbia University Press.

Melton DA (1976) The biology of aardvark (Tubulidentata‐Orycteropodidae). Mammal Review 6: 75–88.

Pocock RI (1924) Some external characters of Orycteropus afer. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 46: 697–706.

Porter CA, Goodman M and Stanhope MJ (1996) Evidence on mammalian phylogeny from sequences of exon 28 of the von Willebrand Factor gene. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 5(1): 89–101.

Shoshani J (1998) Aardvark. In: Gould E and McKay G (eds) Encyclopedia of Mammals (Kirshner D, illustrator), pp. 190–191. San Diego: Academic Press.

Shoshani J, Goldman CA and Thewissen JGM (1988) Orycteropus afer. Mammalian Species 300: 1–8.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Shoshani, Jeheskel(Apr 2001) Tubulidentata (Aardvarks). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001578]