hyrax

/huy"raks/, n., pl. hyraxes, hyraces /-reuh seez'/.
any of several species of small mammals of the order Hyracoidea, of Africa and the Mediterranean region, having short legs, ears, and tail, and hooflike nails on the toes.
Also called dassie, das.
[1825-35; < NL < Gk hýrax (gen. hýrakos) shrewmouse]

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Any member of three genera of small, hoofed, quadruped, rodentlike mammals (order Hyracoidea) native to Africa and extreme South Asia.

Hyraxes have a squat body, a short neck and tail, and short, slender legs. Adults are 12–20 in. (30–50 cm) long and weigh 8–11 lbs (4–5 kg). They are primarily herbivores. They are agile and climb well with the aid of special pads on their feet. Their relationship to ungulates is unclear. See also cony.

Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis).

Leonard Lee Rue III

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mammal
also called  dassie  
 any of six species of small hoofed mammals (ungulates (ungulate)) native to Africa and extreme southwestern Asia. Hyraxes and pikas (pika) are sometimes called conies or rock rabbits, but the terms are misleading, as hyraxes are neither lagomorphs (lagomorph) nor exclusively rock dwellers. The term cony (coney) as used in the Bible refers to the hyrax, not to the pika (“true” cony).

      Hyraxes are rodentlike in appearance, with squat bodies and plump heads; the neck, ears, and tail are short, as are the slender legs. The bush hyraxes (Heterohyrax) and the rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) are terrestrial animals that live in groups among rocks and are active by day. The tree hyraxes (Dendrohyrax) are arboreal, solitary, and nocturnal. All are primarily vegetarian.

      Adult hyraxes are about 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 inches) long and weigh about 4 to 5 kg (9 to 11 pounds). They are agile and climb well with the aid of special pads on their feet. Anatomically, they are characterized by small hooves on the first and third digits of the hind foot (the middle digit is clawed). Teeth include a pair of curved, continuously growing upper incisors, four chisel-like lower incisors, and molars similar to those of the rhinoceros. There is a scent gland on the back. One to three fully furred young are born after a gestation period of about seven or eight months. Natural enemies of hyraxes are pythons, eagles, and large cats.

      The phylogenetic relationships of order Hyracoidea are not clear. Their fundamental characteristics indicate that the group may be an ancient and unprogressive offshoot derived from the ungulate stem. Fossils are known from about 30 million years ago (the Oligocene Epoch); most of these early hyraxes were large, the largest perhaps as big as a modern horse. The closest surviving relatives of the order Hyracoidea are members of the orders Proboscidea (proboscidean) (elephants) and Sirenia (sirenian) (manatees and dugongs). Together these three groups are classified as uranotherians.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hyrax — Hy rax, n. [NL., fr. Gr. ? shrew mouse.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any animal of the genus {Hyrax}, of which about four species are known. They constitute the order {Hyracoidea}. The best known species are the daman ({Hyrax Syriacus}) of Palestine, and the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • HYRAX — (Heb. שָׁפָן, shafan), the Procavia capens (syriaca), a small mammal about 19½ inches (50 cms.) in length, which is found in the mountainous regions of Israel, in the Negev, and in the Aravah. It makes its nest in the clefts of rocks where it… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Hyrax — Hyrax, Säugethier, so v.w. Klippenthier …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Hyrax — Hyrax, s. Klippschliefer …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • hyrax — ► NOUN ▪ a small short tailed herbivorous mammal, found in Africa and Arabia. ORIGIN Greek hurax shrew mouse …   English terms dictionary

  • hyrax — [hī′raks΄] n. pl. hyraxes or hyraces [hīrə sēz΄] [ModL < Gr, shrew mouse < IE base * swer , to hum, buzz > SWARM1] any of an order (Hyracoidea) of small, rodentlike mammals of Africa and SW Asia that feed on plants and live in rocky… …   English World dictionary

  • Hyrax — Taxobox name = Hyraxes fossil range = Early Eocene Recent image width = 200px image caption = Heterohyrax brucei regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia infraclassis = Eutheria superordo = Afrotheria ordo = Hyracoidea ordo… …   Wikipedia

  • hyrax — /ˈhaɪræks/ (say huyraks) noun (plural hyraxes or hyraces /ˈhaɪrəsiz/ (say huyruhseez)) any of a number of small, timid mammals of Africa and south western Asia, superficially resembling rodents, but having tiny hoofs and other distinctive… …   Australian English dictionary

  • hyrax — noun Etymology: Greek hyrak , hyrax shrew Date: 1832 any of a family (Procaviidae) of small ungulate mammals of Africa and the Middle East characterized by thickset body with short legs and ears and rudimentary tail, feet with soft pads and broad …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hyrax — (i raks ) s. m. Terme de zoologie. Nom moderne du genre daman (pachydermes), dans lequel on distingue l hyrax du Cap, dit vulgairement daman, dont la taille approche de celle du lapin. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Terme grec signifiant souris …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

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