Field Frames Friday: There is always that one weird family member.

Rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) may look like grumpy rodents with fangs, but did you know they are actually the closest land relative to elephants? Using fossil, morphological, neuronal, and molecular data, scientists have put rock hyraxes in the same clade (Paenungulata) as elephants and manatees. Hyraxes and elephants have similar foot structures and skulls, so in fact those little fangs are actually tusks!

[Photo by Nick Chudeau and caption by Karli Chudeau; Eid Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel]

Asher, R.J., Novacek, M.J., & Geisler, J.H. (2003). Relationships of endemic African mammals and their fossil relatives based on morphological and molecular evidence. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 10(1-2), 131-194.

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