posted by Ezra @ 10:41 AM
10:12 PM , ironman2000 said...
Early Phoenician navigators mistook the rabbits of the Iberian Peninsula for hyraxes (Hebrew Shaphan); hence they named it I-Shapan-im, meaning "land of the hyraxes", which possibly became the Latin word "Hispania", the root of Spain's modern Spanish name España and the English name Spain.The word "rabbit, or "hare" was used instead of "hyrax" many times in some earlier English Bible translations. European translators of those times had no knowledge of the hyrax (Hebrew שָּׁפָן Shaphan), and therefore no name for them. There are references to hyraxes in the Old Testament which describe hyraxes and rabbits as cud-chewing animals, but the Hebrew phrase means literally, "raising up what has been swallowed." and they are not true cud chewers in the modern sense of the term, but rather coprophages. After eating, they ferment and partially digest their food; their cecum plays a similar role in this process to a cow's rumen. After passing this partially-digested food, they re-ingest it and complete the digestive process. Once digestion is complete, they pass feces of a different texture which they do not re-ingest.
10:18 PM , ironman2000 said...
Hyraxes are sometimes described as the closest living relative of the elephant. This is because they may share an ancestor in the distant past when hyraxes were larger and more diverse. However, the details of their relationship remain open to debate.All modern hyraxes are members of the family Procaviidae (the only living family within the Hyracoidea) and are found only in Africa and the Middle East. In the past, however, hyraxes were more diverse and widespread. The order first appears in the fossil record over 40 million years ago, and for many millions of years hyraxes were the primary terrestrial herbivore in Africa, just as odd-toed ungulates were in the Americas. There were many different species, the largest of them about the weight of a small horse, the smallest the size of a mouse. During the Miocene, however, competition from the newly-developed bovids—very efficient grazers and browsers—pushed the hyraxes out of the prime territory and into marginal niches. Nevertheless, the order remained widespread, diverse and successful as late as the end of the Pliocene (about two million years ago) with representatives throughout most of Africa, Europe and Asia.The descendants of the giant hyracoids evolved in different ways. Some became smaller, and gave rise to the modern hyrax family. Others appear to have taken to the water (perhaps like the modern capybara), and ultimately gave rise to the elephant family, and perhaps also the Sirenians (dugongs and manatees). DNA evidence supports this theory, and the small modern hyraxes share numerous features with elephants, such as toenails, excellent hearing, sensitive pads on their feet, small tusks, good memory, high brain functions compared to other similar mammals, and the shape of some of their bones.Not all scientists support the contention that hyraxes are the closest living relative of the elephant. Recent morphological and molecular based classifications reveal the Sirenians to be the closest living relatives of elephants, while hyraxes are closely related but form an outgroup to the assemblage of elephants, sirenians, and extinct orders like Embrithopoda and Desmostylia..
10:20 PM , ironman2000 said...
Scientists have recently reduced the number of distinct species of hyrax recognized. While as recently as 1995 there were eleven or more recognized species, there are only four recognized today. The remaining species are regarded as subspecies of the remaining four. In fact, there are over 50 recognized species and subspecies, though many are considered highly endangered.ORDER HYRACOIDEA Family Procaviidae Genus Dendrohyrax Southern Tree Hyrax, Dendrohyrax arboreus Western Tree Hyrax, Dendrohyrax dorsalis Genus Heterohyrax Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax, Heterohyrax brucei Genus Procavia Cape Hyrax, Procavia capensis
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