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Kingdom
Aniamlia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Infraclass
Eutheria
Order
Bibymalagasia, MacPhee 1994
Genus
Plesiorycteropus, Filhol 1895
Species
P. madagascariensis, Filhol 1895
Plesiorycteropus, or better known as the Bibymalagasy or the Malagasy Aardvark is an extinct eutherian (extinct animals that are close to placental animals) mammal that was native to Madagascar. Its fossil was found by Henry Filhol at the Cave of Belo. Filhol later placed the animal close to the Aardvark from his observations of morphological similarities.
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Sites where the Plesiorycteropus madagascariensis was found in Madagascar

HABITAT

ENVIRONMENT
The Malagasy Aardvark lived in Madagascar. It was believed they arrived in Madagascar during the Eocene division, at the same time as lemurs. Madagascar ranges from tropical rainforests to desert like plains. However, the Malagasy Aardvark was mainly found on the southern parts of Madagascar, which were spiny forests.
RESOURCES
The Malagasy Aardvark lives in areas with a sufficient source of ants and termites, but also soft fruits that the Malagasy Aardvark also eats sometimes.
CLIMATE
Madagascar mainly has two seasons. The hot, rainy season from November to April; and a cooler, dry season from May to October. The forests receive a yearly rainfall of 3.5 meters and has high atmospheric pressure. Tropical Cyclones do sometimes hit Madagascar and damage many trees, although this could be one of the reasons the Malagasy Aardvark disappeared, but it is very unlikely, as cyclones only happen occasionally.
PREDATOR
The main predator of the Malagasy Aardvark were the three species of Malagasy Hippopotamus which were twice the size of the modern hippopotamus. There other main predator of the Malagsy Aardvark were humans. Not only do humans cause the loss of trees in the forest, but they also had a hunting practice that killed many endemic species in Madagascar.

SELECTION PRESSURE AND EXTINCTION

The main food sources for the Malagasy Aardvark are ant and termite nests up on trees and also some soft foods found from the canopy. However, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, since the arrival of humans around 2000 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its original forests, which also at the same time, damaged the food source of the Malagasy Aardvark. This was believed to be the main reason for extinction, and also the reason why the next generation, the Aardvark developed abilities to survive from consuming food sources of the land.
Many endemic animals of Madagascar like the Malagasy Aardvark was also hunted frequently by humans, which also contributed to the disappearance of the creature.


ADAPTATIONS

We have little knowledge about this species of Aardvark. However over the past centuries, scientists have found larger and less damaged specimens of the Malagasy Aardvark, mostly bones. From fossils found, we could identify the appearance of the creature and the behavior of the creature.

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BEHAVIORAL ADAPTATIONS: FOREST BEHAVIORS

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From the fossils found, we could identify that the Malagasy Aardvark has a broad tail and strong and large hind limbs. This suggested to us that this animal had a stood erect, a sitting posture. The tail and hind limbs takes the weight of the animal. The discoveries also suggested to scientists that the Malagasy Aardvark has the ability to climb up trees. The Malagasy Aardvark’s climbing abilities assist them in eating ants and termite nests that are up on trees.

STRUCTURAL ADAPTATIONS: FORELIMBS

The forelimbs of the Malagasy Aardvark are found to be big, similar to the one of the Aardvark. The fossils of their forelimbs suggest to us that they specialize in scratch-digging, which involves digging their claws of their forelimbs into a substrate (a surface on which an organism grows or is attached), and drawing back their forelimbs towards their bodies. Like the Aardvarks, the strong forelimbs serve as a weapon and for digging, but not necessarily for breaking into termite and ant mounds, suggested by their size.

STRUCTURAL ADAPTATIONS: TONGUE

Aardvarks have a tongue that measures 30cm long. They would stick their snouts in the mound and lick the termites. However, Malagasy Aardvarks have the same characteristics. The only difference is that Aardvarks eat from termite mounds and the Malagasy Aardvarks eats from nests that are up on trees. The termites would stick to its tongue is covered with sticky saliva. This enables the creature to pick up over 50,000 termites in one day.

STRUCTURAL ADAPTATIONS:FEMORA

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The femora (femur or thigh bone) of the Malagasy Aardvark was known to be large in ratio to the size of the creature itself. The largest femur found of the Malagasy Aardvark weighed 6 kilograms. The Malagasy Aardvark was a tree climbing animal, and the large femora is one distinctive feature the Malagasy Aardvark has to assist it to climb trees faster and easier. This is vital for the animal as some trees in Madagascar measures 30 metres tall, like the Adansonia, and without their strength from the femora, it would be impossible for the species to climb trees and to consume food, which would cause extinction.

PHYSIOLOGICAL ADAPTATIONS:NOSE

In the forests of Africa, it was very common for dust and debris to be in the air. Breathing in too many dust could cause respiratory diseases. The Malagasy Aardvark fossil showed to us that they had a large nasal cavity that was very wide in front. The nasal cavity has the function to filter out dusts through a series of thick hair. The large nasal cavity also suggested to us that the Malagasy Aardvark had a great sense of smell, similar to the Modern Aardvark. The large nasal cavity is vital for survival as firstly, it could prevent respiratory diseases by filtering dust and also allows them to sense food that is nearby.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1.Its Nature. (2011). Plesiorycteropus. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from Its Nature, lets discover: http://www.itsnature.org/rip/recently/plesiorycteropus/
2.R.D.E., M. (1994). Morphology, adaptations, and relationships of Plesiorycteropus : and a diagnosis of a new order of eutherian mammals. Bulletin of the AMNH ; no. 220.
3.Wikipedia. (2011). Plesioryceteropus. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plesiorycteropus
IMAGE SOURCE
4.Fink, S. F. (2007). Reconstruction of the mysterious Pleistocene mammal, Plesiorycteropus madagascarensis, as an aardvark-like animal. from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plesiorycteropus
5.BBC. (2003, January 20). Great Uncle Aardvark from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2676377.stm