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Analogy: Kings of the Anthill

Anteater/echidna similarities

Anteaters live in Latin America and South America, grow to two meters (about six feet) long, and give birth to live young. Echidnas live in Australia, grow to half a meter (about one and a half feet) long, and, as the only close, living relative of the duck-billed platypus, lay eggs. But if you get up close and personal with them, you will find that anteaters and echidnas have some striking similarities: both are toothless, with a pointy snout, a long, sticky tongue, and sharp, curved claws. All of these traits are analogies — testaments to the selective power of the anthill. These two rather distantly related lineages independently evolved snout, tongue, and claw traits that allow them to more efficiently pillage and plunder an anthill.

Anteater/echidna similarities

Vested anteater (Tamandua) photo courtesy of Sandy Wiseman; Echidna photo courtesy of Philip Hamilton.

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