Diversity within the order Myrmecophga there are three living subspecies. (Gaudin T. 2018). These subspecies include Myrmecopaga arata, centralis, and tridactyla. However diversity of g. Myrmecophaga is generally low and understudied.itself is low and has only one living species and two subspecies. There are two other genera of Anteaters within this order (Gaudin T. 2018). belongs to the order Pilosa which includes Anteaters and their most closely related relative, Sloths (Clozato et al. 2017). Within
Species diversity and variability are important in the persistence of the Giant Anteater. Lack of genetic diversity makes Myrmecophaga tridactyla is significantly larger than the other subspecies. (Clozato, et al., 2017; Gaudin, et al., 2018)at risk of extinction. Genetic diversity is low due to inbreeding in existing populations (Clozato et al. 2017). No specific haplotypes have been seen between all populations and no more than two haplotypes were shared between three populations of Giant Anteaters (Clozato et al. 2017). One primary difference seen between the subspecies of this genus is individual size.
Habitat ranges are diverse including Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and South America (Gaudin T. 2018). Species in Argentina have a more restricted distribution in northeastern habitats. g. Myrmecophaga (Bertassoni et al. 2019). Some of the habitats remaining include Guatemala, Southern Belize, Costa Rica, and the Caribbeans (Gaudin T. 2018). have individual territories in which they move around during the day which range from 1,326 to 11,000 m/day. The home ranges overlap with one another regardless of gender with few to no conflicts. However, it is important to know that females are more tolerant of their shared habitat where as males can be more aggressive (Bertassoni et al. 2019). (Bertassoni and Riberio, 2019; Gallo, et al., 2017; Gaudin, et al., 2018)is a neotropical species that tend to inhabit low elevations (Gaudin T. 2018). Habitat is dependent on available prey species of ants and termites (Gallo et al. 2017). However, ranges used to extend much further than their current territory due to anthropogenic change. Human activity such as urbanization, poaching, and road use has led to the decrease in habitat use of
Myrmecophga occurs in a wide range of habitats including dense forests and open fields (Arnaud et al., 2010). Habitat ranges for is highly dependent on food availability. are specialists, consuming mainly termites and ants making ideal habitats overlap with those species. Since ants' habitats can range from terrestrial to arboreal, home ranges are diverse (Arnaud et al., 2010). A few preferred habitats include savanna, and grasslands with seasonal flooding (Medri & Mourao, 2005). Higher densities are seen in forest habitats, with some populations favoring edge habitats (Arnaud et al., 2010). It is seen that favors areas near lakes as well (Medri & Mourao, 2005). Anteaters were seen to use grassland habitats for more active behavior and rested in areas of savanna and forest habitat with more available cover (Medri & Mourao, 2005). Overall, Myrmecohaga while specialists in their diet can inhabit a wide range of landscapes and are typically more generalists in this aspect (Medri & Mourao, 2005). (Arnaud, et al., 2020; Medri and Mourao, 2005)
Cingulata (Gaudin et al. 2018). Although the giant anteater may not be related to these animals there are still numerous species that show convergent evolution with the Giant Anteater. These species include Aardvark, Echidnas, and Pangolins. These species have similar diets which have evolved with unique characteristics such as their tongue shape and use, they also all see a reduction in teeth and strong powerful forearms (the sloth conservation foundation, 2016). is also closely related to two other genera containing three species of anteater, all belonging to the suborder Vermilingua. Additionally, there are three extant subspecies within the genus including Myrmecophaga arata, Myrmecophaga centralis, and Myrmecophaga tridactyla. (Gaudin, et al., 2018; The Sloth Conservation Foundation, 2016)is in the Order Pilosa including Sloths and Anteaters making Sloths their closest living relative. They are additionally closely related to Armadillos since they all belong to the superorder
is a quadrupedal mammal with a large bushy tail. This genus is easily distinguishable from other Anteaters by its notably large body size. shows plantigrade body posture when on its hind feet and is seen to prefer knucklewalking while on all four of its limbs (Gaudin et al. 2018)
has modified dentition specialized for eating ants and termites (Naples, 1999). Diet has caused them to have a long extended snout with minimal dentition. There are no bones in the jaws of the mouth, but instead, there are long dentary bones further back (Gaudin et al. 2018). Musculature on the jaw is also greatly reduced. This specialized feeding also affects the digestive structure, metabolic rate, and locomotor function of anteaters. The giant anteater's tongue is two feet long and coated in sticky saliva. The long tongue is concealed in a protruding snout with a highly developed smell (Smithsonian Zoo, 2022).
The coat of Mymecophaga has long claws on the forepaws with shorter bearlike paws on the back. The paw has 5 claws which round in a curve shape around the pads of the paw. The forelimb of this genus has increased musculature which is almost twice the size of the hind legs (Gaudin et al. 2018). All these characteristics have evolved over time mainly due to their specialized diet. (Gaudin, et al., 2018; Naples, 1999; Smithsonian National Zoo, 2022)varies in shades of brown with a wide black stripe up the legs toward the back, the texture of which is short and bristly similar to horsehair (Smithsonian Zoo, 2022).
Mymecophaga may only feed for 38 seconds at each insect nest to avoid chemical or physical defenses. During the breeding season, males have been seen to display competitive behavior including fighting. The giant anteater has been seen using its large fluffy tail to conserve heat when temperatures are low, additionally, they have been noted to bathe when temperatures are high. It is believed that they may also bathe to rid their bodies of residual insects. Overall, the Giant Anteater are docile and spend the majority of their time eating and traveling throughout their territory. (Gallo, et al., 2017; Gaudin, et al., 2018)is a quadrupedal terrestrial organism with the ability to climb and live somewhat arboreal (Gaudin et al. 2018). is a solitary organism, breeding seasons are the exception. The Giant Anteater can be seen both at night and during the day, but feed primarily during the night (Gallo et al., 2017). Activity is seen to be dependent on daily temperatures. The Giant Anteater spends the majority of its time foraging for invertebrates mainly termites and ants. Within a single day can consume up to 35,000 ants, although this quantity depends on several factors including range. Individuals were seen to consume more termites during drier times of the year. However
Mymecophaga has been seen to have a conflict between males, especially during a mating season when they will show a series of behavior. This includes; grunting, circling, clawing, and overall antagonizing one another in order to fight for the female of interest (Smithsonian 2022). Although their paws were evolved to allow earlier feeding and climbing they are also ideal for fighting interaction. Since territory overlaps for this species there are some defensive behaviors. It has been seen in captive individuals that while walking together the giant anteater walks single file with one another (Beryassoni, Costa, 2010). Other than these several forms of communication or defense and reproduction the Giant Anteater does not communicate with other organisms often since they are generally solitary organisms. (Bertassoni and Milleo Costa, 2010; Smithsonian National Zoo, 2022)is generally a not aggressive species and will avoid threats if possible. When necessary to defend themselves the Giant Anteater will rear up to their hind legs using their large tail for balance this rearing also acts as a signal to other Anteaters and organisms to back away. They will use their front paws equipped with large claws to defend themselves if necessary.
One major threat to the Giant Anteater are humans who hunt them for food (Nat. Geo., 2022). In the wild, the Giant Anteater's natural predators are Pumas and Jaguars. Mymrmecophaga protects themselves from predators with their forelimbs and large claws (Natural History, 2021). Individuals when threatened will stand on their hindlimbs and use their large tails as a balance and will protect themselves using their large claws. also has defenses against their prey species, Termite and ants have both morphological and chemical defenses against predators like the anteater. In response, the giant anteater has developed some adaptations to avoid getting injured while feeding. Some of these adaptations include large claws to open the nest, a long tubular tongue, and sticky saliva (Cunha et al., 2014). (Cunha, et al., 2014; National Geographic, 2022; National History Notebooks, 2021)
Unfortunately, the main harm Giant Anteater cause to people is traffic accidents and roadkill events. Since the Giant Anteater has small eyes with poor vision and is slow-moving they are more likely to be killed by moving vehicles (Beretz, 2020). When vehicles come in contact with animals they can injure or even kill those in the vehicles. It has also caused further accidents due to people trying to avoid hitting the organism. Although uncommon it is possible that the Giant Anteater can kill a person if threatened in the wild (Haddad et al., 2014). Since (Beretz, 2020; Gannon, 2014)are equipped with large claws on the forelimbs and stand on their hindlimb when threaten they can pose a large threat to people, however, they are not very confrontational and will mostly avoid people. There are some documented cases of Anteaters attaching people when they feel like their habitat range is threatened or invaded (Gannon, 2014).
Myrmecophaga's IUNC listing status is vulnerable. The main justification for this listing status is due to habitat degradation of their home ranges and death due to anthropogenic effects such as fire and roadkill (Bertaassoni et al, 2010). is a sensitive species due to its living behavior and low reproduction rate which increases its susceptibility to declines. Since its original listing in 1982, it has stayed at the status vulnerable until 2006 until 2008 when it was downlisted to near threatened before being listed as vulnerable again. Some efforts being done to conserve the species consist of breeding programs like the one at the Nashville Zoo. These programs help to ensure that if all individuals in the wild were to die we would not lose the species completely and may be able to introduce captive individuals into the wild. These captive individuals also provide us a way of better understanding the Giant Anteater which allows for better management of wild populations. (Bertassoni and Milleo Costa, 2010; Desbiez, 2010; Nashville Zoo, 2022)
The Giant Anteater does not have any teeth they just have their sticky long tongue that have tiny spines pointing back toward the throat. The Gaint anteater has a smelling power 40X stronger than a human being. The Giant Anteater can spend as much time as 15 hours a day sleeping. ("Myrmecophaga tridactyla", 2022)
Sarah Jackman (author), Colorado State University, Audrey Bowman (editor), Colorado State University.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
having more than one female as a mate at one time
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"
uses touch to communicate
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
breeding takes place throughout the year
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