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hyrax

hyrax (hī´răks), name for rabbit-sized mammals of Africa and SW Asia comprising the family Procavidae. Although rodentlike in appearance, hyraxes are hoofed mammals, or ungulates (see Chordata), most closely related to elephants and sea cows. The hyrax, also called coney or dassie, has a squat, furry body, with short slender legs, short ears, and a short tail. It has small hooves on its toes, and moist padded soles that cling to steep surfaces by suction, making it an excellent climber. There are four hyrax species, classified in three genera. The genera Procavia and Heterohyrax include the two ground-living species. They are rock dwellers and live in colonies of up to 50 animals; they are found especially in deserts and hills. The rock hyrax (P. capensis) is noted for the "songs" of the male. The species of the genus Dendrohyrax are arboreal and are known as tree hyraxes; they are the only tree-dwelling hoofed mammals. Tree hyraxes are solitary and nocturnal; they are confined to forested regions of Africa. Hyraxes feed on seeds, fruit, and leaves, and in large numbers can be serious agricultural pests. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Hyracoidea, family Procavidae.

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hyrax

hyrax Small, rodent-like, herbivorous, mammal of Africa and sw Asia, with a squat, furry body and short ears, legs and tail. Rock hyraxes (genus Procavia) living in deserts and hills are larger than the solitary, nocturnal, tree-dwelling hyraxes (genus Dendrohyrax). Length: to 50cm (20in). Family Procaviidae.

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hyrax

hy·rax / ˈhīˌraks/ • n. a small herbivorous mammal (family Procaviidae and order Hyracoidea) with a compact body and a very short tail, found in arid country in Africa and Arabia. The nearest relatives to hyraxes are the elephants and other subungulates.

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hyrax

hyrax genus of rabbit-like quadrupeds. XIX. modL. — Gr. húrax shrew-mouse.

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hyrax

hyrax See HYRACOIDEA.

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hyrax

hyraxaxe (US ax), Backs, Bax, fax, flax, lax, max, pax, Sachs, sax, saxe, tax, wax •co-ax • addax • Fairfax • Ceefax •Halifax • Telefax • Filofax • banjax •Ajax •pickaxe (US pickax) • gravlax •gravadlax • poleaxe • toadflax •parallax •battleaxe (US battleax) •minimax • climax • Betamax • anthrax •hyrax •borax, storax, thorax •syntax • surtax • beeswax • earwax •Berks, Lourenço Marques, Marks, Marx, Parks, Sparks •annex, convex, ex, flex, hex, perplex, Rex, sex, specs, Tex, Tex-Mex, vex •ibex • index • codex • tubifex •spinifex • pontifex • Telex • triplex •simplex • multiplex •ilex, silex •complex • duplex • circumflex • Amex •annexe • Kleenex • apex • Tipp-Ex •haruspex • perspex • Pyrex •Durex, Lurex, murex •Middlesex • unisex • Semtex • latex •cortex, Gore-tex, vortex •vertex • Jacques •breeks, idée fixe, maxixe, Weeks

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Hyrax

HYRAX

HYRAX (Heb. שָׁפָן, shafan), the Procavia capens (syriaca), a small mammal about 19½ inches (50 cms.) in length, which is found in the mountainous regions of Israel, in the Negev, and in the Aravah. It makes its nest in the clefts of rocks where it finds refuge (Ps. 104:18) and where it lives in small groups (Prov. 30:26). Its bodily structure is well adapted for rockclimbing: It has a flexible, tailless body, short feet, soles covered with elastic pads, and small ears. It is mentioned in the Bible (Lev. 11:5; Deut. 14:7) among the animals which though chewing the cud are not clovenfooted, and are thus prohibited as food. Its classification as a ruminant may be attributed to the sideward movement of its jaws when feeding or, more probably, to the structure of its digestive system, the protuberances in its large stomach together with its appendix and maw possibly being regarded as analogous to a ruminant's four stomachs. In mishnaic times hyraxes were sold in market places to non-Jews, together with hares, camels, and pigs (Uk. 3:3). In modern Hebrew the word shafan is wrongly applied to the hare, there being no doubt from the biblical description that it is the hyrax, as is evident also from its Arabic name tafan.

bibliography:

J. Margolin, Zo'ologyah, 2 (19602), 446–7; Tristram, Nat Hist, 75–77; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 45. add bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 282.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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