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Once they've opened a termite mound, aardvarks will eat up to 500,000 termites in a sitting. Aardvarks are the last survivors of a primitive group of mammals that have lived in Africa since the dinosaurs. they were originally classified alongside anteaters and armadillos in the order Edentata ("no teeth"), but they are not remotely related, having evolved on different landmasses.
The aardvark has a primitive, "designed by committee" look to it: the nose of an anteater, the ears of a donkey, the feet of a rabbit, and the tail of a giant rat.
Aardvarks are strong: they can grow to the size of a defensive tackle and dig a burrow faster than six men using shovels. Aardvarks are loners: it's rare for them to meet up except to mate. Aardvark teeth are twenty flat-topped pegs, made up of hexagonal tubes, right at the back of their mouths. Instead of enamel, they are covered with cementum, the stuff that is normally inside teeth. Like rodents' teeth, they never stop growing.
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Aardvark, the fourth noun listed in the 1928 Oxford English Dictionary, owes its inclusion to the editor James Murray, who overrode his assistant's opinion that the word was too technical.
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