Sunday, August 9, 2009
The Rock Hyrax is so unlike other animals that it is placed in a separate order (Hyracoidea) by itself. It is said to be the elephant's nearest living relative. This is true to a certain extent, but misleading since the relationship stems from a remote ancestor common to hyraxes, sea cows (dugongs and manatees) and elephants. These three are unlike other mammals, but they share various if disproportionate physiological similarities in teeth, leg and foot bones, testes, and other more obscure details.
The rock hyrax has three resting patterns consisting of heaping, huddling, and solitary resting. Heaping occurs when hyraxes sleep on top of one another in their hole. Huddling is like heaping but takes place out of the hole. These behaviors probably serve to help regulate body temperature as hyraxes' body temperature fluctuates with ambient temperature.