ant-eater, noun

EnglishShow more Transferred use of general English ant-eater a name used of any of several quadrupeds of the order Edentata.
1. The aardvark, Orycteropus afer.
Often (especially formerly) called African ant-eater, Cape ant-eater, or great ant-eater. Cf. scaly ant-eater (see sense 2 below).
1795 C.R. Hopson tr. of C.P. Thunberg’s Trav. I. 137The anteater, or aardvarken (myrmecophaga), digs large holes in the earth, in which in the day time he lies secure from his enemies.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 50Our horses were in continual danger of falling or breaking their legs, from the innumerable holes of ant-eaters, porcupines, and jackals.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 111We ran no small risk of being overset by the excavations of the great ant-eater, which were sometimes sufficiently large to admit a man and horse into them.
1834 T. Pringle Afr. Sketches 227The African ant-eater (orycteropus, or myrmecophaga capensis), called aard-vark, or earth-pig, by the colonists, from its habit of burrowing in the earth — a shy and timid creature, which lives entirely upon ants.
1847 A Bengali Notes on Cape of G.H. 80The ‘Aard-vark’ or ‘great anteater’ burrows the numerous holes found in the sands in the interior.
1871 J. McKay Reminisc. 15He fell up to his armpits into one of those large holes which have been formed most likely by some species of ant-eater, and which are plentifully scattered over the plains in this colony.
1929 J.G. Van Alphen Jan Venter 283‘It’s an aardvark,’ cried Grobbelaar. It was a hefty specimen of Cape ant-eater with a three-foot body, digging itself in.
1989 Motorist Aug.Look out for the potholes made by ant-eaters, or washaways caused by rain.
2. With defining word, scaly ant-eater: the pangolin Manis temminckii of the Manidae.
1918 S.H. Skaife Animal Life in S. Afr. 251The scaly ant-eater is closely related to the aard-vark...The upper part of its body is encased in hard, horny scales.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 1101The scaly ant-eater (manis temminchi) is found in Cape Colony, the Orange River Colony and to the North, and the porcupine is spread over Africa generally.
1959 C. Lagus Operation Noah 172Also known as the Scaly Anteater, the South African Pangolin is as peculiar in appearance as the Aardvark. It looks like a gigantic animated fir cone, with a thick tail added.
1985 C. Walker Signs of Wild (1987) 29Pangolin...Other names in English: Scaly Anteater, Temminck’s Pangolin.
1987 Hit Feb. 14If you kill a scaly ant eater, you immediately cut off its head because a pregnant woman is not supposed to see it as she could bear a child with a similar head shape.
The aardvark, Orycteropus afer.
With defining word, scaly ant-eater:the pangolin Manis temminckii of the Manidae.
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