10 Fun Facts About the Rock Hyrax (Or, Are You Ready to Rock Hyrax?)
by Mary Bates
The rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) is full of surprises. While it looks like a slightly more robust version of a guinea pig, it’s no rodent. These squat, furry animals are found across Africa and the middle East, where they like to hang out in rock formations and the seemingly inhospitable nooks on sheer cliff faces. Rock hyraxes are gregarious, living in colonies of up to 80 individuals. They grow up to two feet in length and about 10 pounds in weight.
So if they’re not rodents, what are they related to? Read on for the surprising truth about rock hyraxes…
(read more: Wired Science)
photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikimedia

10 Fun Facts About the Rock Hyrax (Or, Are You Ready to Rock Hyrax?)

by Mary Bates

The rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) is full of surprises. While it looks like a slightly more robust version of a guinea pig, it’s no rodent. These squat, furry animals are found across Africa and the middle East, where they like to hang out in rock formations and the seemingly inhospitable nooks on sheer cliff faces. Rock hyraxes are gregarious, living in colonies of up to 80 individuals. They grow up to two feet in length and about 10 pounds in weight.

So if they’re not rodents, what are they related to? Read on for the surprising truth about rock hyraxes…

(read more: Wired Science)

photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikimedia

denizensofearth

denizensofearth:

Rock Hyrax, Procavia capensis

This relatively inconspicuous little creature is a surprisingly close relative of the African Elephant and have tusks like their cousins, though of course, they are much tinier.  Before doing the research for this post, that’s pretty much the only thing I knew about them, but it turns out these guys are pretty interesting on their own!

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naturestudies
kqedscience:

Small Furry Hyrax Sings in Regional Dialects
By recording hundreds of the animals’ songs and applying clever mathematics, researchers discovered that differences in note arrangement, or syntax, in hyrax songs vary as the distance increases between colonies — a surprising occurrence of dialect. 
(Click here to read more and view a short video of a singing hyrax.)
(via: Wired Science)

kqedscience:

Small Furry Hyrax Sings in Regional Dialects

By recording hundreds of the animals’ songs and applying clever mathematics, researchers discovered that differences in note arrangement, or syntax, in hyrax songs vary as the distance increases between colonies — a surprising occurrence of dialect.

(Click here to read more and view a short video of a singing hyrax.)

(via: Wired Science)

Afrotheria 
… a (probable) clade of mammals, the living members of which belong to groups from Africa or of African origin: golden moles, sengis (also known as elephant shrews), tenrecs, aardvarks, hyraxes, elephants and sea cows. The common ancestry of these animals was not recognized until the late 1990s. Historically, the Paenungulata had been linked to other ungulates; the golden mole, tenrecs, and elephant shrews with the traditional (and polyphyletic) Insectivora; and the aardvarks with the pangolins and the xenarthrans within the invalid taxon, the Edentata. Continuing work on the molecular and morphological diversity of afrotherian mammals has provided ever increasing support for their common ancestry…
(read more: Wikipedia)      (image: Esculapio)

Afrotheria 

… a (probableclade of mammals, the living members of which belong to groups from Africa or of African origin: golden molessengis (also known as elephant shrews), tenrecsaardvarkshyraxeselephants and sea cows. The common ancestry of these animals was not recognized until the late 1990s. Historically, the Paenungulata had been linked to other ungulates; the golden mole, tenrecs, and elephant shrews with the traditional (and polyphyletic) Insectivora; and the aardvarks with the pangolins and the xenarthrans within the invalid taxon, the Edentata. Continuing work on the molecular and morphological diversity of afrotherian mammals has provided ever increasing support for their common ancestry…

(read more: Wikipedia)      (image: Esculapio)

scientificillustration
scientificillustration: superorder Afrotheria

“Representatives of the six orders of mammals comprising the Superorder Afrotheria: (Upper Left) African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana); (Upper Right) Golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus); (Middle Left) Aardvark (Orycteropus afer); (Middle Right) Streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes nigriceps); (Lower Left) Eastern tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax validus); and (Lower Right) Dugong (Dugong dugon).
[Images of tenrec and dugong reproduced with permission from Andromeda Oxford Limited (18); other images reproduced with permission from Jonathan Kingdon.].”

scientificillustration: superorder Afrotheria

“Representatives of the six orders of mammals comprising the Superorder Afrotheria: (Upper Left) African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana); (Upper Right) Golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus); (Middle Left) Aardvark (Orycteropus afer); (Middle Right) Streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes nigriceps); (Lower Left) Eastern tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax validus); and (Lower Right) Dugong (Dugong dugon).

[Images of tenrec and dugong reproduced with permission from Andromeda Oxford Limited (18); other images reproduced with permission from Jonathan Kingdon.].”

Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)
by Erik Linderman
Hyraxes are the smallest of the subungulate mammals (i.e., animals who share a  common ancestor with ungulates) and are similar in appearance to a woodchuck. The feet are plantigrade (fore) to semi-digitigrade (hind). The soles of the feet have soft,  large pads that are kept moist with sweat-like secretions. Total length  for adults ranges from 305 to 550 mm and tail length ranges from 11 to  24 mm. Rock hyraxes are polygynous, and a single territorial male can control a  harem of 3 to 7 females in a territory of less than 4000 square meters.
Procavia capensis is gregarious and lives in colonies with as many as 80 individuals,  depending home range size and resource abundance.  Herds are typically  comprised of a territorial male that controls a harem of several related  females and their offspring, but may consist of a multiple families,  each headed by an adult male. Females are usually philopatric, and may  associate with each other indefinitely.  Female emigration is rare, but  dispersing females have been accepted into other colonies after an  initial period of hostility from resident females.  There is no defined  dominance hierarchy among females, but older individuals tend to be the  more dominant and vigilant than younger individuals...
(read more: ADW)   (photo: David Blank)

Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)

by Erik Linderman

Hyraxes are the smallest of the subungulate mammals (i.e., animals who share a common ancestor with ungulates) and are similar in appearance to a woodchuck. The feet are plantigrade (fore) to semi-digitigrade (hind). The soles of the feet have soft, large pads that are kept moist with sweat-like secretions. Total length for adults ranges from 305 to 550 mm and tail length ranges from 11 to 24 mm. Rock hyraxes are polygynous, and a single territorial male can control a harem of 3 to 7 females in a territory of less than 4000 square meters.

Procavia capensis is gregarious and lives in colonies with as many as 80 individuals, depending home range size and resource abundance. Herds are typically comprised of a territorial male that controls a harem of several related females and their offspring, but may consist of a multiple families, each headed by an adult male. Females are usually philopatric, and may associate with each other indefinitely. Female emigration is rare, but dispersing females have been accepted into other colonies after an initial period of hostility from resident females. There is no defined dominance hierarchy among females, but older individuals tend to be the more dominant and vigilant than younger individuals...

(read more: ADW)   (photo: David Blank)

Fuzzy Critters’ Crystallized Pee Changes Climate Record?
by Rachel Kaufman
Looking like a rodent but more closely related to  elephants and manatees, the roughly rabbit-size rock hyrax has, for tens  of thousands of years, lived in colonies of up to about 50 individuals  in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East (regional map).
The  animals use communal “toilets” called middens, where rock hyrax waste  slowly crystallizes into a layered, amber-esque, smelly substance. Like  amber, the middens can contain valuable evidence—in this case, traces  of how much grass the animals were eating and isotopes indicating how  dry that grass was.
As a result, some middens are essentially unbroken,  28,000-year-old records of changes in regional vegetation, said study  leader Brian Chase of the Institute of Science and Evolution at the University of Montpellier 2 in France. The  ancient waste is especially prized because evidence of ancient climate  change is hard to come by in arid regions—including southern Africa,  where the team’s recent research took place…
(read more: National Geo)   (image: Arrik)

Fuzzy Critters’ Crystallized Pee Changes Climate Record?

by Rachel Kaufman

Looking like a rodent but more closely related to elephants and manatees, the roughly rabbit-size rock hyrax has, for tens of thousands of years, lived in colonies of up to about 50 individuals in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East (regional map).

The animals use communal “toilets” called middens, where rock hyrax waste slowly crystallizes into a layered, amber-esque, smelly substance. Like amber, the middens can contain valuable evidence—in this case, traces of how much grass the animals were eating and isotopes indicating how dry that grass was.

As a result, some middens are essentially unbroken, 28,000-year-old records of changes in regional vegetation, said study leader Brian Chase of the Institute of Science and Evolution at the University of Montpellier 2 in France. The ancient waste is especially prized because evidence of ancient climate change is hard to come by in arid regions—including southern Africa, where the team’s recent research took place…

(read more: National Geo)   (image: Arrik)

eximago
eximago: Hyraxes

Hyraxes are small mammals that live in Africa and the Middle East. Consisting of just four species today, they were once wide spread throughout Africa as the primary herbivores, filling many different niches. In the hyracoidean hay-day, they ranged from the size of mice to the size of horses, but were eventually out competed when Bovids, who are more efficient grazers, moved in. Due to their ancient origins, hyraxes are very primitive mammals. They don’t retain body heat as well as other mammals, so they’re forced to huddle together for heat (as pictured) or to bask in the sun as cold-blooded reptiles do.
Unlike living, marginalized hyraxes of today, some of their relatives adapted to other, empty niches in the wake of the bovid takeover. Most notably, some took to semi-aquatic lifestyles and evolved into a group of animals that would eventually give rise to modern day elephants and sirenians (manatees and dugongs). While this might seem surprising, hyraxes share a number of features with these animals. They and elephants both have sensitive foot pads, toenails, tusks, excellent hearing, memory, and intelligence compared to similarly sized animals.

eximago: Hyraxes

Hyraxes are small mammals that live in Africa and the Middle East. Consisting of just four species today, they were once wide spread throughout Africa as the primary herbivores, filling many different niches. In the hyracoidean hay-day, they ranged from the size of mice to the size of horses, but were eventually out competed when Bovids, who are more efficient grazers, moved in. Due to their ancient origins, hyraxes are very primitive mammals. They don’t retain body heat as well as other mammals, so they’re forced to huddle together for heat (as pictured) or to bask in the sun as cold-blooded reptiles do.

Unlike living, marginalized hyraxes of today, some of their relatives adapted to other, empty niches in the wake of the bovid takeover. Most notably, some took to semi-aquatic lifestyles and evolved into a group of animals that would eventually give rise to modern day elephants and sirenians (manatees and dugongs). While this might seem surprising, hyraxes share a number of features with these animals. They and elephants both have sensitive foot pads, toenails, tusks, excellent hearing, memory, and intelligence compared to similarly sized animals.