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Sculptures by Phyllis Bone



Three modern genera: eleven species. All in Family Procaviidae.

Hyraxes possess:
  • Unspecialised, plantigrade feet.
  • Toes - united by a pad and ending in hoof-like nails.
  • 4 toes on fore foot, 3 on hind foot.
  • Poor thermoregulation.
  • Complex gut - microbial digestion sites for breaking down fibrous material.

The Hyracoidea was once a very diverse group including lion-sized forms and some semi-aquatic genera, almost exclusively African.

Hyrax skullHyrax skeleton
Rock hyrax skullRock hyrax skeleton

The most notable modern hyrax is the rock hyrax (Procavia capensis), which feeds mostly on coarse grass. Besides Procavia, the other two genera are Dendrohyrax, the 'tree hyraxes' and Heterohyrax, the 'bush hyraxes'.

Curiously, two species of hyrax (P.johnstoni and H.brucei ) live in mixed groups, sharing sleeping holes, latrines and nursery groups but not interbreeding. Competition is avoided by their having different diets.