The giant anteater,
Myrmecophaga tridactyla, is the largest of three
species of anteaters that are roaming the earth today.
Because it is the largest, it was previously known as
the Ant-Bear. They are also the best known and the easiest
recognizable anteater species. They are
characterized by having coarse, brittle fur that is
mostly grey except for a black stripe, that is outlined
by white fur, and runs from the chest up to the middle
of the back.
The head of the giant anteater is elongated with a snout which contains a very long, whip-like tongue. In fact, the giant anteater has the longest tongue compared to its body length of all the Mammals. The mouth, about the diameter the same as a pencil, at the end of the snout is the opening where the tongue is extended from.
Their tails are extremely different from the other species of anteaters. The tails are non prehensible, which means they are not used for grabbing objects or wrapping around branches to hang from. The tails are also covered with the brittle fur and over the life, it gets very very bushy. They use these bushy tails like blankets and curl themselves up in them when the weather is cold.
Giant anteaters have been roaming the earth over 25
million years! This is an incredibly long time,
considering the oldest human fossil is said to be from
about 3 million years ago.