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The aardvark is found throughout much of Africa, from the southern part of Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope. A primarily nocturnal animal, it lives in burrows and feeds on ants and termites, occasionally eating other insects, the fat mouse, and a species of wild ground cucumber.

The aardvark is up to 2.3 m (7.5 ft) long, including the fleshy, tapering tail, which it uses to throw earth backward when it burrows. It has an arched back, a tubular snout, and large, upright ears. The aardvark uses its specialized, chisel-shaped claws to break open the hard clay of termite nests; then it uses its sticky tongue to capture the insects in the nest. Unlike the animals known as anteaters, which are toothless, the aardvark has twenty cylindrical, rootless teeth that grow continually throughout its lifetime.

The female gives birth to one or occasionally two offspring which can dig their ...

Article

The aardwolf, whose name in Afrikaans means “earth wolf,” stands 45 to 50 cm (18 to 20 in) high at the shoulder, has a body length of 50 to 80 cm (27 to 31 in) long, and is covered with long, coarse hair and soft underfur. It is light buff in color, with black bands. At night it leaves its burrow, traveling singly or in a group, to forage for insects, especially termites. When attacked, the aardwolf erects its mane, achieving a formidable appearance, and ejects a foul-smelling fluid from its anal glands. Having weak jaws and small teeth, however, it must use its sharp canines to fight off such enemies as the dog. Toward December the female aardwolf finds a burrow and bears a litter of one to five young.

The aardwolf is classified as Proteles cristatus It is usually placed in the hyena family Hyaenidae Some experts ...

Article

Acacia  

Most of the 1,200 species of the genus acacia are native to tropical Africa or Australia. The normal type of leaf is bipinnate (featherlike), but it is often modified. The acacia is of great and varied economic importance, yielding edible seeds and valuable timber and gum.

Acacias belong to the ...

Article

For information on

Physical characteristics of the continent of Africa: See Climate of Africa; Geomorphology, African.

Rivers: See Congo River; Gambia River; Niger River; Nile River; Senegal River; Ubangi River; Zambezi River.

Deserts: See Drought and Desertification; Kalahari Desert ...

Article

Ana Raquel Fernandes

Also known as the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa, the African Association was founded in 1788 with the objective of sponsoring geographical expeditions to Africa, and in particular, to chart the course of the river Niger. A related aim was to open the African continent to British trade and influence. The founder member Sir Joseph Banks, a naturalist and a wealthy patron of science, was its president. The Association's first Proceedings were published in 1790, together with the account of Simon Lucas, one of the first explorers sent to Africa by the Association. However, Lucas's sensationalist travel memoirs were rapidly eclipsed by the publication of more accurate accounts produced by the celebrated explorers Mungo Park, the German Friedrich Hornemann, and the Swiss Jonathan Burckhardt, whose African expeditions were also sponsored by the Association.

With the assistance of Bryan Edward Secretary ...

Article

Robert Fay

Larger than the Asian elephant, which lives in Southeast Asia, the African elephant is grayish brown, with thin, rough body hair, and an elongated trunk and tusks. It reaches a height of 4 meters (13 feet) at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 7,000 kilograms (15,430 pounds). African elephants have distinctively large ears, which may measure 1.5 m (5 ft) from top to bottom. Like the Asian elephant, the African elephant is threatened by diminishing habitat and the demand for elephant tusks, which provide ivory.

The boneless muscular trunk the most distinctive feature of the elephant is actually a greatly elongated upper lip and nose Elephants use their trunk to convey grasses leaves and water to their mouth Elephants commonly feed in the morning evening and at night and rest during the middle of the day They consume as much as 150 kg 330 lb of forage a ...

Article

Elizabeth Miller

conjectural early human, also known as Mitochondrial Eve, was proposed by Rebecca L. Cann and her fellow researchers in 1987 Using mitochondrial DNA inherited only along the maternal line Cann and her associates examined 147 individuals and produced a genetic evolutionary tree showing branching from two sets of individuals one set of African ancestry and a second set of mixed African and other ancestry The most parsimonious explanation of the tree was that modern humans originated in Africa from a single source which Cann and her coworkers named Eve at a date between 140 000 and 290 000 years ago Subsequent research has placed this date more accurately at approximately 200 000 years ago by comparing ten human genetic models African Eve is a mathematical model and not an actual fossil of human remains Nonetheless most scientists now agree that she is the most recent woman who is ancestral ...

Article

Robert Fay

The black skinned long legged African hunting dog weighs between seventeen and thirty six kilograms forty to eighty pounds and is covered with short sparse fur in a wide range of black yellow and white patterns The large ears are rounded and each paw has only four toes The animal lives and travels in packs numbering from a few to more than fifty individuals Packs range up to 3 900 square kilometers about 1 500 square miles in their search for food but they greatly restrict their range when pups are young and unable to follow the pack The dogs hunt in a pack which moves slowly after its prey and gradually increases its pace as the victim moves away Once the pack has selected a victim it rarely wavers sometimes following prey up to several kilometers The dogs are one of Africa s most successful hunters with a kill ...

Article

Aloe  

Aloe usually have short stems fleshy lanceolate leaves crowded in rosettes at the end of the stem and red or yellow tubular flowers in dense clusters Species vary in height from several cm to more than 9 m 30 ft they are widely cultivated as garden and tub plants Several ...

Article

Jacob Emmanuel Mabe

the first African and black professor and philosopher of the European Enlightenment, was born in the coastal Ghanaian town of Axim. The background of his travel to Europe can only be speculated about. It is only certain that Amo was given over to Herzog Anton Ulrich von Wolfenbuettel-Braunschweig in 1707 as a slave of the Dutch West Indies Company. At that time he could have been eight years old, because he was baptized on 29 July 1708 in Braunschweig. In addition to German, Amo could speak Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Dutch, and English.

In 1727, Amo entered the University of Halle, where he studied philosophy and law. On 28 November 1729, he presented his first disputation, De jure maurorum in Europa (On the Rights of Black Peoples in Europe which unfortunately remains lost In this work Amo acts as an advocate of the equality of all people ...

Article

The group comprises about 150 species, of which most are found in Africa and the remainder in Asia. Antelope range in size from the tiny royal antelope, which stands about 25 cm (about 10 in) high at the shoulder, to the giant eland, sometimes about 1.8 m (about 5.9 ft) in height and weighing up to about 680 kg (about 1,500 lb). The corkscrew horns of a large African antelope, the Kudu grow up to about 1 5 m about 5 ft in length Unlike the deer which they resemble in body and in habits antelope have unbranched hollow horns that are never shed Antelope are generally swift and some species are the fastest of the quadrupeds attaining speeds of 97 km hr 60 mph Antelope are often brilliantly colored and may live in open plains marshes deserts or forests according to the species Some are solitary but many ...

Article

Arctotis blossoms last throughout the summer and autumn The most common species is known as the blue eyed African daisy It grows to a height of more than 60 cm 24 in and bears composite flowers up to 7 cm 3 in in diameter The flowers which have white rays ...

Article

Baboon  

Baboons generally are adapted to life on the ground and avoid forests; they range in large herds, called troops, over rocky, open lands and wooded areas of Africa and Arabia. Powerful and aggressive animals about the size of a large dog, baboons have strong, elongated jaws, large cheek pouches in which they store food, and eyes close together. They have overhanging brows and strong limbs. One of their distinctive features is the large, brightly colored, hairless area on their buttocks. Their legs are thick and sturdy, and their tail is generally short and carried high in an arch.

Baboons can distinguish colors and have a keen sense of smell They eat a wide variety of food including worms eggs insects reptiles crabs mollusks small mammals fruits and young shoots Their troops are often composed of thirty to more than one hundred members Baboons have several different calls many of which ...

Article

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer, naturalist, surgeon, and philologist who opened up the Niger region to European trade and influence, was born in Kirkwall, Scotland, the eldest son of a Royal Navy captain, John Baikie. He was educated for a time at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, but mainly privately, in company with his cousins. He gained a medical degree from Edinburgh University, where he also developed his interest in natural history. In 1848, together with Robert Heddie, he wrote the first part of a published study of the natural history of Orkney, Historia naturalis Orcadensis. In the same year he joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon, serving on no less than five different ships in the Mediterranean before being appointed in the same capacity to Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, from 1851 to 1854. It was from here in 1854 that through the patronage of the influential Sir Roderick ...

Article

Banana  

Species of the banana are native to Southeast Asia, but are now grown extensively in all tropical countries for their fruit, fiber, or foliage. Half of the world's banana crops are grown in Africa, and much of the produce is used locally. The leading banana export regions are Central America and northern South America. The banana is a large, herbaceous plant with a perennial root, or rhizome, from which the plant is perpetuated by sprouts or suckers. In the tropics the stems are annual, that is, they die after perfecting the fruit, and new stems are developed from buds in the rootstock.

These stems or buds are the common means of propagating and making new plantations and the growth is so rapid that the fruit is usually ripe within ten months after the offsets are planted When fully grown the stem attains a height of 3 to 5 meters 10 ...

Article

Baobab  

Robert Fay

The baobab tree grows only to the height of a large maple tree (about 15 m/50 ft), but the trunk sometimes attains a diameter of 9 m (30 ft), making it one of the world's largest trees. Only the sequoia and the eucalyptus have greater trunk diameters. The branches, frequently as thick as the trunks of other large trees, form a hemispherical mass of foliage often 45 m (150 ft) in diameter. The large diameters of the trunk and the tree's lower limbs allow the tree to store large amounts of water. During the dry season, baobabs drop their leaves to conserve much of the water that would be lost through transpiration.

The baobab provides food and shelter for many animals The baobab fruit commonly called monkey bread is about the size of a grapefruit People eat the fruit and use pulp from the tree to prepare cooling drinks In ...

Article

The many known species are widely distributed in the temperate and tropical parts of Eurasia. Birds in the family have long, slender bills and swallow-like wings and are noted for their brilliant plumage.

The common, or European, bee-eater has a crown and mantle of chestnut, shading below into primrose; the head is black and white, the throat yellow, and the rest of the plumage greenish-blue. Its home extends from Portugal and North Africa through the Mediterranean area and southern Russia to westernmost China. It is migratory and winters in southern Africa, and also occasionally strays to northern Europe.

Like the kingfishers the bee eaters nest in holes that they dig in earthen banks When a colony is ready to nest they select a bank and each pair digs a nesting burrow A round chamber is formed at the end of a passage about 1 8 to 2 4 m ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Due to its tectonic history, weather patterns, and sheer longitudinal sprawl—7,918 km (4,920 mi)—from Tunis, Tunisia to Cape Town, South Africa), Africa contains an extraordinary variety of habitats. As a result, measurements of species diversity, average biomass, and “primary productivity” (amount of energy plants photosynthesize) vary immensely. In addition, the flora and fauna of Africa have evolved and adapted according to specific local and regional conditions, which have, in turn, been influenced by global patterns and epochal changes. Thus the Climate and Geomorphology of Africa play primary roles in the determination of biological diversity Although the complexity of life in Africa limits the use of simple categories the continent may be roughly classified into a small number of biomes or ecological types Scientists use biomes to classify large regions of relative uniformity where soil plants animals and weather suggest a continuity of condition A biome most ...

Article

Robert Fay

Known as the Abay (or Abbay or Abbai) in Amharic and as al-Bahr al-Azraq in Arabic, the Blue Nile is purported to originate in a spring in the Ethiopian highlands, a holy site of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. From this spring, the Little Abay descends into Lake Tana. The Abay, or Blue Nile, plunges down the Tis Isat waterfall a short distance below Lake Tana. Just over 350 km (220 mi) farther south, it bends west into the Blue Nile Gorge, which reaches depths of more than 1,000 m (about 3,300 ft). Eventually, it bends northwest into Sudan, where it joins the White Nile at Khartoum to form the Nile River proper The river s complete course stretches roughly 1 370 km 850 mi During the flood season June to September the Blue Nile provides up to 85 percent of the Nile s total volume though during ...

Article

The blue eyed African daisy grows to a height of more than 60 cm 24 in and bears flowers up to 7 cm 3 in in diameter with white pink orange red or yellow rays and blue centers The flowers close each night and open again the following morning Dwarf ...