Aardwolf

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Here’s a cute aardwolf photographed by Greg Hume.  Like the thylacine of Australia, the aardwolf and its cousin the hyena are unrelated to wolves, but came to occupy a wolf-niche in a wolf-free region.  This is called convergent evolution.  Dutch settlers gave it the name “aardwolf” or “ground wolf” because of its underground dens.  I can’t help but wonder why, since regular wolves also live in underground dens.  It would be like calling a buffalo a “land cow.”  Incidentally, “aardvark” means “ground hog” (not “groundhog”).

Here’s a cute aardwolf photographed by Greg Hume.  Like the thylacine of Australia, the aardwolf and its cousin the hyena are unrelated to wolves, but came to occupy a wolf-niche in a wolf-free region.  This is called convergent evolution.  Dutch settlers gave it the name “aardwolf” or “ground wolf” because of its underground dens.  I can’t help but wonder why, since regular wolves also live in underground dens.  It would be like calling a buffalo a “land cow.”  Incidentally, “aardvark” means “ground hog” (not “groundhog”).

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The aardwolf is, if not the coolest wolf, at least the most underrated.  It’s not even a wolf, which makes its accomplishments all the more remarkable.  The aardwolf is more closely related to the mongoose than the wolf.  What’s more, it survives by eating bugs.  Yet, working within these constraints, the indominable aardwolf thrives.  In the order Carnivora, the aardwolf is first in the alphabet and first in style.
Photograph by Phil Richardson of Africa Wildlife Films.

The aardwolf is, if not the coolest wolf, at least the most underrated.  It’s not even a wolf, which makes its accomplishments all the more remarkable.  The aardwolf is more closely related to the mongoose than the wolf.  What’s more, it survives by eating bugs.  Yet, working within these constraints, the indominable aardwolf thrives.  In the order Carnivora, the aardwolf is first in the alphabet and first in style.

Photograph by Phil Richardson of Africa Wildlife Films.

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