Aardvarks are most closely related to elephants, despite their pig-like appearance, rabbit-like ears and kangaroo-like tail. They are nocturnal termite eaters and can consume up to 50,000 termites a night! This is enabled by their powerful claws, long sticky tongue, tough skin to protect them from termite bites, and the ability to seal their nostrils to keep the dust and insects from entering their snout.
The aardvark is a good example of a conservation ‘bright spot’ on the Tree of Life. It’s rated as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN but has a ‘High’ evolutionary distinctiveness rating. As the only living species of the order Tubulidentata it uniquely represents nearly 90 million years of evolutionary heritage.
Distribution: widespread in sub-Saharan Africa
Conservation status: Least Concern
Evolutionary distinctiveness: High