The Secular Objectivity of the Anteater

Image result for anteater

The anteater is one of those species of animals named after what it does, like the sidewinder, the walking horse and the boomslang (although it has been many years since anyone has actually seen ANY snake slang a boom).  The anteater, of the order Pilosa, has been around for millions of years; and, the fatigue is beginning to show.  They are most closely related to the sloth, although they seldom return its phone calls.

The anteater’s habitat is Central and South America.  The earliest ancestors of the anteater came from North America, possibly during the Pleistocene era and possibly while high.  Scientists theorize that they migrated south for a concert and, due to oversleeping, missed the bus the next day.  The anteater tends to live near waterways and deep in the rain forest; this is good considering the only other choices of habitat in Central and South America would be the peaks of the Andes and downtown Bogota.

Anteaters have no teeth, which means that you seldom see one smiling.  Even if one does smile, it tends to be a lop-sided RAF fighter pilot grin.  They have a long snout which, unlike that of the Tapir, is tapered.  The anteater has sharp claws which it uses to tear into insect mounds, climb trees and defend itself from drunken zoo-goers.  The tongue of the anteater can extend up to twenty-four inches, even more if it is detached surgically.  It’s tail is nearly the same length as its body.  All in all, it is very thin on one end, much wider in the middle, then very thin on the other end.  Like a hairy brontosaurus.

Anteaters are ferocious fighters and have even killed humans from time to time.  Their claws can tear open an enemy’s abdomen faster than you can say, “Jack Robinson”; in fact, it is probably safer to say, “Jack Robinson” than to stand too close to an anteater.  They only attack when threatened; but, who’s to say what constitutes a threat?  You?  Don’t make me laugh.

Their tenacious defense is probably the reason that the anteater is not yet endangered.  It tends to give birth to only a single young and normally that would be an issue in today’s topsy turvy world; but, the anteaters get by juuuuuust fine…

There are four species of anteater:  Giant Anteater, Silky Anteater, Northern Tamandua and Southern Tamandua.

Image result for giant anteaterThe giant anteater is the species that looks most like a bear and least like mollusk.  It can be seven feet long from its snout to the tip of its tail–even longer if measured in centimeters.  Like fictional character Freddy Krueger, the giant anteater has razor sharp claws and has been known to attack people in their dreams.  Also like Freddy Krueger, the giant anteater can weigh up to one hundred and forty pounds.  Because its eyes are set on the side the giant anteater must rely upon contact lenses for its vision correcting needs.

The giant anteater does not use hydrochloric acid to digest its food, so it that is a deal-breaker for you I’d find another animal.  Rather it uses its prey’s formic acid to help digest its food.  Also, there is some speculation that the giant anteater might use small rocks to grind the ants and termites that it swallows.  The giant anteater can eat up to thirty thousand ants in a day–more if it has access to a blender or food processor.

Image result for silky anteaterThe silky anteater (cyclopes didactylus) is both nocturnal and arboreal, making it vastly different from animals who are neither.  It ranges as far north as southern Mexico mostly for the cheap cosmetic surgery available.  It has tiny sharp claws, a prehensile tail and, by some accounts, a suave British accent…

The silky anteater is about a foot long and weighs less than a pound.  It can eat up to eight thousand ants in a single day and will remember that day for the rest of its life.  Its predators mostly attack from the sky.  They include eagles, hawks and very ambitious wrens.  The silky anteater was probably named for the silk cotton trees in which it tends to reside.

Image result for lesser anteaterThe lesser anteater (tamandua tetradactyla) ranges from Argentina up to Venezuela.  It can grow to as long as four feet and weigh as much as ten football fields.  It is smaller than the giant anteater, but no less irritable, defending itself with razor-sharp claws, stench from its anal gland and a loud hiss that causes its predators to run back to their vehicles and make sure their tires are okay.  They are sometimes hunted for the tendon in their tails, which makes a strong rope.  If you know a better way to make rope, I’d like to hear it…

The northern tamandua is pretty much the same as the lesser anteater, only with a ‘V’ of black fur on its back.  It ranges from Central America up into Mexico.  It is considered armed and dangerous…

Image result for tamandua anteater

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