We didn't make it up

Meet Proteles cristatus, the aardwolf. It makes its home in south and east Africa. Its common name means "earth wolf" in Afrikaans.

Cousins of the hyenas, aardwolves are more closely related to civets, mongooses and meerkats than dogs or wolves. Highly specialized insectivores, they use acute hearing and a long, sticky tongue to consume tens of thousands of harvester termites in a single night.

An aardwolf in threat mode.
The aardwolf in threat mode.

Their cheek teeth have become simple pegs, but they have retained long, sharp canines from their carnivorous past. Weighing in at only 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 13 kilograms), they can make their manes stand on end to assume a more threatening appearance.

Why an aardwolf?

The main reason is practical, AARDWOLF fares nicely in alphabetized lists, but is not as widely used as aardvark. Also, it's unusual enough that the name is remembered.

Plus, we think they're kind of neat. And one might say that they are as excellent at debugging as we are.