South African wildlife – rock hyrax

By Ed Yong | February 7, 2010 11:57 am

These are rock hyraxes or dassies. They may look like guinea pigs, but they’re in an entirely different order of mammals. It’s sometimes said that they are the closest living relatives of elephants. However, some scientists would dispute that sirenians – the manatees and dugongs – are more closely related still, with the hyraxes as a more distant outgroup.
They’re nimble animals, scuttling comfortably across rocky terrain and even climbing trees with relative ease. They can often be spotted basking in the sun to raise their body temperature, not unlike a reptile would. We found this pair in Tsitsikamma National Park.

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Comments (5)

  1. david

    Nice pic. Neat. ? The rock’s a shiny schist folded up and broken into these little slabs that make good habitat?? And did you see the highest bungee jump?

  2. Dan Milton

    “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks (King James Version)”.
    “Hyraxes–they aren’t powerful, but they make their homes among the rocks (New Living Translation)”.
    Other translations of Proverbs 30:26 offer rock-badgers, rabbits, or simply transliterate “shephanim”. I still like KJV.

  3. Nathan Myers

    Spain was named after hyraxes by the Phoenicians, even though they found no hyraxes there. It was the closest word they could come up with for the rabbits they found there.

  4. CS Shelton

    Brilliant! Not to mention cute as ungodly hell!

  5. bec

    Those two are definitely up to something…

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