Friday, February 10, 2006

A is for Anteater

Author's Note: This is the first in a series entitled Nanuk's Bestiary, wherein I take a crack at making a major contribution to the knowledge pool of mankind by sharing my amazing insights in the field of zoology.

ANTEATER - a four-footed insect-eating mammal whose habitat range stretches from Central America to the high Arctic of Canada and Greenland. It has an extensible tongue stretching up to 18 meters, and makes a characteristic "Zot" sound when capturing ants and termites, although the Ice anteater, the formiphagus hyperborean, makes more of a "Splush" sound due to the ejection of antifreeze to protect its tongue from sticking to the ice while foraging.

In the southern extremes of its range, anteaters are solitary and retiring creatures, but in northern climes they are gregarious and playful, often congregating in packs of 20 - 30 to increase the likelihood of finding snow ant colonies around polynyas and igloos.

The anteater figures predominately in the mythology of all indigenous peoples in its range. While the Aztecs and Mayans frequently portrayed this animal as a symbol of war or divine retribution, the Inuit of Greenland revere to this day the anteater as a harbinger of successful hunts and fertility. It figures greatly in throatsinging competitions, where the repetitive "splush, splush, splush" ingressive vocals provide a counterpoint to the mimetic sounds of other animals sought in the hunt.

Not to be confused with aunteater, a narrowly-focused sexual deviancy amongst primates.

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