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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Placentalia (placental mammals)

[= Eutheria]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals)





Afrosoricida (golden moles, tenrecs and otter-shrews)


Macroscelidea (elephant shrews)

Contains a single family, the Macroscelididae. Elephant shrews are endemic to Africa. 


Tubulidentata (aardvarks)

The only living species is the Aardvark Orycteropus afer, best known for being found at the beginning of the dictionary. It is found in Africa south of the Sahara.




Hyracoidea (hyraxes / dassies)

Hyraxes (in Afrikaans dassies) are indigenous to Africa and Arabia and all fall within the single family Procaviidae.




Proboscidea (elephants)

A single extant elephants species, the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana), is indigenous to southern Africa.


Sirenia (dugongs and manatees)

A single species, Dugong dugon (Dugong, Sea cow, Sea pig) is indigenous to southern Africa, found along the Mozambican coast and the coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal. Its distribution extends to East Africa, Red Sea and N Australia.





Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares and pikas)

The family Leporidae (rabbits and hares) is indigenous to southern Africa.


Rodentia (rodents, including squirrels, mice, rats, Spring Hare, molerats, porcupines)




Primates (lemurs, bushbabies, monkeys, human being, apes)



Eulipotyphla (shrews and hedgehogs)


Chiroptera (bats)






Pholidota (pangolins / scaly anteaters)

Pangolins, also called scaly anteaters, all fall in the family Manidae and are native to Africa and south Asia. One species in Southern Africa: Manis temminckii (Ground pangolin)


Carnivora (dogs, cats, mongooses, hyaenas, otters, badgers, weasels, polecats, walrus, seals, raccoons, bears, genets, civets)




Order: Perissodactyla (odd-toed ungulates) 

There are three families of odd-toed ungulates: horses, zebras and donkeys (Equidae) from Africa and Asia ;  tapirs (Tapiridae) from Central America, South America and SE Asia; and rhinoceroses (Rhinocerotidae) from Africa and SE Asia.


Cetartiodactyla (even-toed ungulates and cetaceans)


Suiformes (pigs)


Whippomorpha (hippopotamuses, whales, dolphins and porpoises)


Ancodonta (hippopotamuses)

One family: Hippopotamidae containing one extant species, Hippopotamus amphibius (Hippopotamus).The hippo is semi- aquatic and spends most of the day lying in water or on the river bank. Hippo normally occur in herds (or schools) of 10 to 15 animals, although larger groupings and solitary animals are also quite common. Herds consist of cows, sub-adults and calves, with a dominant bull.


Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises)


Ruminantia (ruminants)

Includes antelope, buffalo, and the Giraffe.