Hidden testicles and petrified urine: Why the hyrax is one of the world’s weirdest animals

This adorable creature is neither rodent nor rabbit.

The hyrax is a small, furry mammal that looks and behaves like things that it isn’t. It looks like a rodent, but is more closely related to elephants and sea cows than it is to superficiallysimilar pikas and marmots.

Male hyraxes have no scrotum, and tuck their testicles up inside their abdominal cavities, just as male elephants do. Female hyraxes have three pairs of teats, including onepairnear their armpits. Female elephants also have a pair of teats near their armpits. The diminutive herbivores, which live predominantly in Africa, also have tusks which develop from their incisor teeth, just like the tusks of elephants do.

Hyraxes dine on plants and have a three-chambered stomach that is laced with bacteria. It helps them to digest their food, and isn’t a far cry from the four-chambered stomach of a cow. They are not good at maintaining their internal temperature, so they like to sunbathe during the day, just like a lizard.

They live in small family groups, with a single male who defends their patch, which is easily spotted because hyraxes consistently urinate in the same place. Their urine is rich in calcium carbonate which stains the rocks white. Hyraceum, which is made of this petrified urine, is used in traditional South African medicine to treat epilepsy.

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Source: https://www.sciencefocus.com
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