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Quiz about Enter the Aardvark
Quiz about Enter the Aardvark

Enter the Aardvark Trivia Quiz

In the evolution of mammals there entered a remarkable and odd-looking creature, the aardvark, which looks like a jumble of different animals. Other than being the first animal in the dictionary, what do you know about this singular creature?

A photo quiz by gracious1. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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4 mins
Photo Quiz
Quiz #
Dec 21 21
# Qns
Avg Score
7 / 10
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 209 (9/10), japh (5/10), Southendboy (8/10).
photo quiz
1. The aardvark is also called the "African ant-bear". In which part of Africa will you find aardvarks in the wild? Hint

North Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Barbary coast

2. What is the primary diet of the aardvark? Hint

rodents, lizards, frogs
termites, grubs, ants
berries, bananas, mangos
roots, shoots, nuts, seeds

photo quiz
photo quiz
3. Aardvarks can grow as big as human beings.


4. Which is the aardvark's best sense?


photo quiz
photo quiz
5. How does an aardvark walk or run? Hint

digitigrade - on the front of its toes, like a dog
dorsigrade - on the back of its toes, like certain armadilloes
plantigrade - on the soles of its feet, like a human
unguligrade - on the tips of its toenails (i.e. hooves), like a horse

6. In what kind of home does an aardvark most commonly live? Hint

in a nest in a tree
in a burrow in the ground
in a natural cave
in a dam down by the river

photo quiz
photo quiz
7. Aardvarks are active primarily and ordinarily at which time of day? Hint

early morning (matutinal)
day (diurnal)
night (nocturnal)
twilight (crepuscular)

8. Is the aardvark (top) closely related to the giant anteater (bottom)? That is to say, do they occupy the same taxonomic order?


photo quiz
photo quiz
9. Good grief. All these animals kind of resemble the aardvark to me, in bits and pieces. In terms of phylogeny (evolutionary tree), which of these is the closest relative to the aardvark? Hint

pig (lower left)
elephant (upper left)
kangaroo (lower right)
tapir (upper right)

photo quiz
10. Which is of these statements about African cultures and the aardvark is TRUE? Hint

The aardvark is hated and feared among African cultures
The aardvark is admired among African cultures
The aardvark was nearly hunted to extinction by 2012
Aardvark meat is taboo or unclean in all African cultures

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Most Recent Scores
Sep 21 2023 : Guest 209: 9/10
Sep 03 2023 : japh: 5/10
Sep 02 2023 : Southendboy: 8/10
Aug 29 2023 : pusdoc: 9/10
Aug 23 2023 : Guest 14: 4/10
Aug 21 2023 : Guest 68: 6/10
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Aug 08 2023 : Guest 172: 8/10

Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The aardvark is also called the "African ant-bear". In which part of Africa will you find aardvarks in the wild?

Answer: Sub-Saharan Africa

One might suppose that an animal as peculiar-looking as the aardvark would have a restricted habitat, but in fact aardvarks range all over the expanse of sub-Saharan Africa, in grasslands, bushlands, and a few mountain ranges. They don't care for lowlands and swamps, however, because the soft, wet earth makes for poor burrowing.

The island of Madagascar is south of the Sahara, but there are no aardvarks there. None.
2. What is the primary diet of the aardvark?

Answer: termites, grubs, ants

The diet of the aardvark is limited by the teeth it possesses (or the lack thereof). The name of the aardvark's order, Tubulidentata, hints at one of its most distinctive--and anachronistic--features: its strange teeth. Having tubular teeth that resemble upright straws, the aardvark swallows the insects whole and chews with its stomach (or more precisely in a sort of gizzard). A hungry aardvark might use its long sticky tongue to lap up 50-60,000 ants and termites in one night.

A veritable insectivore is the humble aardvark; the only fruit it can stomach is the Cucumis humifructus, commonly called the aardvark cucumber or the aardvark pumpkin. The aardvark consumes it as a source of water and actually plays a vital role in propagating the plant's seeds through his or her excrement.
3. Aardvarks can grow as big as human beings.

Answer: True

The aardvark's short, stubby legs, its long snout and ears, its beady, black eyes, and its prominently arched back can deceive the eye when the animal is photographed without any context. But make no mistake, the aardvark is big, much bigger than, say, the "giant" anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) of the Americas. An adult aardvark can weigh between 60 and 82 kilograms (130-180 lbs), making it right in the median range of male and female humans.

The aardvark grows typically to at least 105 to 130 centimeters (3.44-4.27 ft) in length, or if you add its tail, the aardvark may extend to a whopping great 2.2 meters (almost 7'3"), which is a tad greater than the height of basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
4. Which is the aardvark's best sense?

Answer: smell

The aardvark's eyesight is poor, its tongue very long and sticky, and its hearing quite good, given the rabbit-like ears, but its keenest sense is that of smell. The long snout of the aardvark contains 10 turbinate bones--those hollow, seashell-shaped structures that convey air through nasal passages. (To compare, dogs and other canids have only four or five!) Surrounding the turbinate bones are vast amounts of epithelial tissue, which is the key to a super-sensitive sense of smell.

The tips of their snouts are particularly mobile, and their hairs filter out debris.

The aardvark's brain has a relatively large olfactory lobe. Altogether, this gives the aardvark the ability to sniff out delicious ants and grubs from quite a distance.
5. How does an aardvark walk or run?

Answer: digitigrade - on the front of its toes, like a dog

Like dogs and cats, the aardvark walks with its weight borne on the front of its toes. The only time an aardvark stands on its soles is when it squats. Each of the aardvark's five toes on its rear feet and four toes on its front feet are equipped with a flat, spade-like, nail that may look like a cross between a hoof and a claw. (It is most certainly not a hoof, however.)

Aardvarks serve as prey for many species such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, pythons, and hyenas. To escape their predators, aardvarks run in a zigzag pattern or dig extremely fast. Aardvarks make little noise, except when frightened.
6. In what kind of home does an aardvark most commonly live?

Answer: in a burrow in the ground

With powerful limbs and claws like spades, an aardvark can rip into extremely hard ground and into tough termite mounds, and it may dig up to 60 cm (almost 24 inches) in 15 seconds flat. To prevent its nostrils from clogging up with dust, not to mention ants or termites, the aardvark seals them shut. The burrows, often in termite mounds, can extend up to 30-40 feet long and feature multiple entrances.

The home burrow is crucial to the mating and breeding seasons and provides protection for the offspring. Aardvarks are solitary, except for mothers with their young, and cubs are typically born one at a time. A cub can start to dig burrows at merely six months, and it can accompany its mother to forage for food as early as two weeks.

Aardvarks change burrows frequently, and when they abandon their burrows, many other animals will rake them over: wild dogs, porcupines, warthogs, pythons -- perhaps even an African shelduck or an owl or a rare blue swallow.
7. Aardvarks are active primarily and ordinarily at which time of day?

Answer: night (nocturnal)

Aardvarks are secretive and nocturnal creatures, which is why if you see one at the zoo it is most likely asleep, like the comfortable pair pictured here. Studies conducted with radio collars have demonstrated that aardvarks travel up to 18.6 miles (30 km) per night.

Having said that, global climate change has affected their behavior in some areas. As the Kalahari becomes hotter and drier, aardvarks in 2020 have been observed in the daytime. Drought causes food scarcity, which leads to lower body-fat composition, and consequently they have been unable to keep themselves warm enough at night to forage.
8. Is the aardvark (top) closely related to the giant anteater (bottom)? That is to say, do they occupy the same taxonomic order?

Answer: No

Well, they both eat ants, and some folks confuse their names, and in the comic strip 'B.C.', Johnny Hart drew a character called The Anteater that was actually a hybrid of the two species, with an aardvark's long ears and an anteater's bushy tail. This shows how close the two animals remain in popular imagination. Yet...

Once upon a time zoologists put both aardvarks and anteaters along with sloths and armadillos into the same order, Edentata, which means "toothless", for they lacked incisors and/or well-developed molars. Now, however, they are classified in separate orders: Tubulidentata ("tubular-toothed") for aardvarks, and Pilosa ("hairy ones") for anteaters, armadillos, and sloths. Why the change? One clue is that anteaters are from the New World and aardvarks from the Old World, which tells a little bit about the evolutionary development of these animals. (Read on for more info on this.)

Nowadays zoologists prefer to organize animals not so much according to visible characteristics but by phylogeny, or how they fit in the natural history or evolutionary story of animals. Anteaters, sloths, and armadillos belong to superorder Xenarthra ("strange-jointed") -- placental mammals unique to the Americas and which originated specifically in South America when it was quite isolated during the Cenozoic era. Aardvarks belong to superorder Afrotheria, containing certain placental mammals that developed in Africa, especially when it was isolated in the Cenozoic era some 25-50 million years ago.

But despair not! If you really want anteaters and aardvarks to share a classification more specific than just "placental mammals", some zoologists have proposed a clade called Atlantogenata, meaning "born of the Atlantic", which would encompass both of these South American and African mammals, the xenarthrans and the afrotheres, together in a magnum-order (or "magnorder"). Some scientists contend the genetic evidence supports this, and in geologic history, South America and Africa were once united.
9. Good grief. All these animals kind of resemble the aardvark to me, in bits and pieces. In terms of phylogeny (evolutionary tree), which of these is the closest relative to the aardvark?

Answer: elephant (upper left)

The word "aardvark" means "earth-pig" in Afrikaans (South-African Dutch), but despite having a pig-like snout, it's not any kind of swine, which are even-toed ungulates (hoofed, herbivorous mammals) of the order Artiodactyla, along with hippos, giraffes, deer, and bison. (In some sources, Artiodactyla is a suborder of the order Cetartiodactyla, which also includes all whales and dolphins).

Tapirs and aardvarks share a form of proboscis (an elongated and mobile nose). But tapirs are odd-toed ungulates (again, hoofed herbivores) of South America and Southeast Asia, cousins to zebras, horses, donkeys, and rhinos, all of which belong to the order Perissodactyla.

Both of these ungulate orders (Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla) belong to the superorder Laurasiatheria (lit. "Laurasian beasts"), whose ancestors evolved in Laurasia, the supercontinent of the Northern Hemisphere that once consisted of Europe (minus the Balkans), Asia (minus India), and North America. (Aardvarks do not belong to this superorder.)

The aardvark's back and tail resemble a kangaroo's, and the aardvark has a powerful kick. Nevertheless kangaroos are not even close, being marsupials of most of Australasia (specif. Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea), while aardvarks (and all the other choices given) are placental mammals.

So the winner is the one that looks least like an aardvark! Aardvarks and elephants -- along with manatees (sea cows), hyraxes (dassies), and sengis (elephant shrews) -- all belong to the superorder Afrotheria, lit. "African beasts". While dissimilar at the macro level, at the microscopic level (genes and molecules), the connections are apparent. They began to evolve at a time when Africa was a lonely island continent, and they descend from a single common ancestor.
10. Which is of these statements about African cultures and the aardvark is TRUE?

Answer: The aardvark is admired among African cultures

African cultures past and present have long respected and admired the aardvark for its bravery in hunting termites and the dreaded solider ants. Although not an aggressive creature and preferring to flee, the aardvark has defended itself against larger attackers by scratching with its strong claws and kicking with its powerful back legs.

The ancient Egyptian god Set -- lord of deserts, storms, and chaos, as well as the protector of the sun god Ra -- is depicted with the head of an aardvark. Hausa magicians southern Niger and northern Nigeria make charms from body parts of the aardvark, and the Mangbetu, Ayanda, and Logo tribes of the Congo and other parts of central Africa adorn themselves with bracelets made of aardvark teeth as good luck charms.

Their admiration has not prevented some cultures from eating aardvark meat; however, they have not over-hunted the aardvark, which in 2012 was listed as a species of "least concern" by the IUCN.
Source: Author gracious1

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