Afrotheres | Afrotheria

Afrotheria refers to a superorder of mammals thought to have common ancestors that have roots in Africa or living in Africa. The animals are usually insectivorous and share little resemblance other than their genetics. Many of the Afrotheres live on land, but there are also others like sea cows that inhabit water bodies. Afrotheres are characterized by late permanent dental eruption, unusually long mobile snout, small body size, and unspecialized limbs. Many Afrotheres are already extinct and the existing ones are threatened by human activity which destroys their habitat. All in all, they fulfill the role left by other ant-eating mammals and large herbivores.

Why are Afrotheria different than other mammals?

Afrotheria are different than other mammals as the 7 groups that make up this clade are not physically in resemblance with one another so their relationship is not often known. The 7 groups that make up this order include the elephants, sea cows, hyraxes, aardvarks, elephant shrews, golden moles, and tenrecs.

How many species of Afrotheria are there?

In total there are 4,700 species of Afrotheria which make up about one-third of all the living orders of mammals. The Afrotheria species make up about 80 of the 1,250 species of mammals that live in Africa and Madagascar.

Are aardvarks and elephants related?

Aardvarks and elephants are related as they both belong to the group of primitive ungulates that are called Uranotherians. The split between them took place more than 90 million years ago and led to the Ungulate, Carnivore, Xenarthran, and Cetacean orders. Aardvarks and elephants are part of the Afrotheres clade.

Afrotheres Guides
Browse through our curated Afrotheres Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Afrotheres. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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Aardvark
267700
23.6”-29.9” | 60-76 cm
11”-13.4” | 28-34 cm
41.3”-51.2” | 105-130 cm (Body)
88-176 lb | 40-80 kg
15-30 years
Aardvark
76.000
34.000
130.000
80.000
30.00
267700
3D
Aardvark
8.5’-13’ | 2.6-4 m
4.27’-6.89’ | 1.3-2.1 m
10’-16.5’ | 3-5 m
5,500-15,400 lb | 2,500-7,000 kg
60-75 years
African Bush Elephant
400.000
210.000
500.000
7000.000
75.00
42900
3D
African Bush Elephant
5.92’-9.83’ | 1.8-3 m
2.82’-4.59’ | .86-1.4 m
7.22’-12.13’ | 2.2-3.7 m
8,818-13,889 lb | 4,000-6,300 kg
60-70 years
African Forest Elephant
300.000
140.000
370.000
6300.000
70.00
17400
3D
African Forest Elephant
1.6’-2’ | 50-62 cm
2.1’-2.7’ | 63-83 cm
8’-10’ | 2.4-3 m
573-1,058 lb | 260-480 kg
15-30 years
Amazonian Manatee
62.000
83.000
300.000
480.000
30.00
3900
3D
Amazonian Manatee
5.7”-7.5” | 14.5-19 cm
3.3”-4.5” | 8.5-11.5 cm
9.1”-11.8” | 23-30 cm (Body)
1-1.54 lb | 450-700 g
4-5 years
Black & Rufous Elephant Shrew
19.000
11.500
30.000
0.700
5.00
320
3D
Black & Rufous Elephant Shrew
8.17’-9.83’ | 2.5-3 m
3.94’-5.25’ | 1.2-1.6 m
10.17’-12.47’ | 3.1-3.8 m
6,000-10,000 | 2,720-4,535 kg
55-70 years
Borneo Pygmy Elephant
300.000
160.000
380.000
4535.000
70.00
1850
3D
Borneo Pygmy Elephant
7.1”-12.2” | 18-31 cm
4.3”-7.5” | 11-19 cm
12.2”-21.7” | 31-55 cm
2.9-7.9 lb | 1.3-3.6 kg
10-14 years
Bush Hyrax
31.000
19.000
55.000
3.600
14.00
150
3D
Bush Hyrax
5.9”-7.7” | 15-19.5 cm
4.3”-5.7” | 11-14.5 cm
8.7”-11.4” | 22-29 cm (Body)
1.4-2.9 oz | 40-83 g
2-6 years
Cape Elephant Shrew
19.500
14.500
29.000
0.083
6.00
240
3D
Cape Elephant Shrew
1.6”-2” | 4-5 cm
1.6”-2” | 4-5 cm
3.9”-4.7” | 10-12 cm
.9-1.7 oz | 25-47 g
3-4 years
Cape Golden Mole
5.000
5.000
12.000
0.047
4.00
180
3D
Cape Golden Mole
4.25’-4.58’ | 1.3-1.4 m
2.4’-2.5’ | .73-.76 m
5.58’-5.91’ | 1.7-1.8 m
440-550 lb | 200-250 kg
68 years (minimum)
Cyprus Dwarf Elephant
140.000
76.000
180.000
250.000
68.00
70
3D
Cyprus Dwarf Elephant
Dugong
302300
1.9’-3.1’ | 58-95 cm
3’-5’ | 93-153 cm
8’-13’ | 2.4-4 m
507-838 lb | 230-380 kg
50-70 years
Dugong
95.000
153.000
400.000
380.000
70.00
302300
3D
Dugong
7.9”-9.4” | 20-24 cm
5.9”-7.1” | 15-18 cm
18.5”-22” | 47-56 cm
3.7-6.6 lb | 1.7-3 kg
10-14 years
Eastern Tree Hyrax
24.000
18.000
56.000
3.000
14.00
1820
3D
Eastern Tree Hyrax
2”-2.6” | 5-6.5 cm
1.2”-1.6” | 3-4 cm
3.1”-3.9” | 8-10 cm (Body)
.9-1.1 oz | 25-31 g
1-4 years
Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi
6.500
4.000
10.000
0.031
4.00
300
3D
Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi
3.1”-3.9” | 8-10 cm
3”-3.5” | 7.5-9 cm
7.9”-9.4” | 20-24 cm
.9-1.2 lb | 410-540 g
3-4 years
Giant Golden Mole
10.000
9.000
24.000
0.540
4.00
1820
3D
Giant Golden Mole
3.3”-4.3” | 8.5-11 cm
2.75”-3.7” | 7-9.5 cm
10.6”-13.8” | 27-35 cm (Body)
.88-1.72 lb | 400-780 g
3-5 years
Giant Otter Shrew
11.000
9.500
35.000
0.780
5.00
300
3D
Giant Otter Shrew
3.3”-5.3” | 8.5-13.5 cm
2.75”-4.3” | 7-11 cm
5.9”-9.1” | 15-23 cm (Body)
.39-.77 lb | 175-350 g
8-13 years
Greater Hedgehog Tenrec
13.500
11.000
23.000
0.350
13.00
310
3D
Greater Hedgehog Tenrec
6.58’-11.42’ | 2-3.5 m
3.28’-6.23’ | 1-1.9 m
8.2’-14.44’ | 2.5-4.4 m
4,409-11,023 lb | 2,000-5,500 kg
50-80 years
Indian Elephant
350.000
190.000
440.000
5500.000
80.00
61700
3D
Indian Elephant
2”-2.75” | 5-7 cm
1.8”-2.75” | 4.5-7 cm
5.1”-7.1” | 13-18 cm
.25-.56 lb | 113-255 g
5-19 years
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
7.000
7.000
18.000
0.255
19.00
850
3D
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
2.2”-3.1” | 5.5-8 cm
1.6”-2.4” | 4-6 cm
4.7”-6.7” | 12-17 cm
.28-.62 lb | 125-280 g
2-2.5 years
Lowland Streaked Tenrec
8.000
6.000
17.000
0.280
2.50
2550
3D
Lowland Streaked Tenrec
3.3”-4.1” | 8.5-10.5 cm
2.2”-2.75” | 5.5-7 cm
4.3”-5.1” | 11-13 cm (Body)
1.4-1.9 oz | 40-55 g
1-4 years
North African Elephant Shrew
10.500
7.000
13.000
0.055
4.00
100
3D
North African Elephant Shrew
3.1”-5.9” | 8-15 cm
2.6”-4.5” | 6.5-11.5 cm
6.7”-12.2” | 17-31 cm (Body)
.9-2.1 oz | 25-60 g
1-4 years
Somali Elephant Shrew
15.000
11.500
31.000
0.060
4.00
410
3D
Somali Elephant Shrew
6.3”-11.4” | 16-29 cm
4.5”-8.7” | 11.5-22 cm
12.6”-23.6” | 32-60 cm
3.7-9.9 lb | 1.7-4.5 kg
10-14 years
Southern Tree Hyrax
29.000
22.000
60.000
4.500
14.00
1850
3D
Southern Tree Hyrax
6.5’-7.4’ | 200-225 cm
6.5’-7.4’ | 200-225 cm
26’-30’ | 7.9-9.1 m
16,000-20,000 lb | 7,260-9,070 kg
50-80 years
Steller's Sea Cow
225.000
225.000
910.000
9070.000
80.00
4700
3D
Steller's Sea Cow
2.1’-2.8’ | 65-85 cm
2.8’-3.6’ | 85-110 cm
10’-13’ | 3-4 m
794-1,653 lb | 360-750 kg
20-30 years
West African Manatee
85.000
110.000
400.000
750.000
30.00
260
3D
West African Manatee
2.3’-3.5’ | 70-107 cm
2.8’-4.3’ | 85-130 cm
10’-14.75’ | 3-4.5 m
794-1,190 lb | 360-540 kg
25-30 years
West Indian Manatee
107.000
130.000
450.000
540.000
30.00
5200
3D
West Indian Manatee
8.3”-10.6” | 21-27 cm
5.9”-7.9” | 15-20 cm
17.3”-22.4” | 44-57 cm
2.2-11 lb | 1-5 kg
5-14 years
Western Tree Hyrax
27.000
20.000
57.000
5.000
14.00
1850
3D
Western Tree Hyrax
8.5’-11.17’ | 2.6-3.4 m
4.59’-6.23’ | 1.4-1.9 m
9.19’-12.47’ | 2.8-3.8 m
13,205-17,593 lb | 5,990-7,980 kg
60-80 years
Woolly Mammoth
340.000
190.000
380.000
7980.000
80.00
146900
3D
Woolly Mammoth
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec (Echinops telfairi)
Scale illustration of an average Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec compared to other African Insectivore species

The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec (Echinops telfairi) has a profile of a hedgehog. However, it is still small, stout, with a short tail and prominent ears. Its limbs and muzzles are of moderate length. It is mostly found in tropical dry forests, dry shrublands, and dry savannas of Madagascar. The lesser hedgehog tenrec is terrestrial and may feed on insects or small invertebrates. Besides, it is a solitary animal. Its hair is modified into black and white spines to act as protection from predators, while its belly and paws have fine hairs. These nocturnal animals have poor eyesight, but with a well-developed sense of smell and hearing and sensitive whiskers.

The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec has a body length in the range of 5.1”-7.1” (13-18 cm) and total weight of .25-.56 lb (113-255 g). The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec has a rough standing height between 2”-2.75” (5-7 cm) and body width of 1.8”-2.75” (4.5-7 cm). The typical lifespan of the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec is between 5-19 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec (Echinops telfairi) has a profile of a hedgehog. However, it is still small, stout, with a short tail and prominent ears. Its limbs and muzzles are of moderate length. It is mostly found in tropical dry forests, dry shrublands, and dry savannas of Madagascar.

The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec has a body length in the range of 5.1”-7.1” (13-18 cm) and total weight of .25-.56 lb (113-255 g). The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec has a rough standing height between 2”-2.75” (5-7 cm) and body width of 1.8”-2.75” (4.5-7 cm). The typical lifespan of the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec is between 5-19 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec (Echinops telfairi)
Height:
2”-2.75” | 5-7 cm
Width:
1.8”-2.75” | 4.5-7 cm
Length:
5.1”-7.1” | 13-18 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.25-.56 lb | 113-255 g
Area:
Scientific Name
Echinops telfairi
Lifespan
5-19 years

Drawings include:

Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec side view, front

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African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the African Bush Elephant compared to other elephants and a person

The African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) is the large living animal with bulls reaching a shoulder height of up to 4 meters, the largest living terrestrial animal is also known as the African Savanna Elephant. Both sexes have curved tusks that develop and are rising throughout their whole lives when they are 1–3 years old. The African Bush Elephant is distributed in 37 African countries and lives in forests, grasslands, wetlands, and farmland. It is a social mammal, composed of cattle and their descendants who travel in herds. It feeds on scratching, splitting, medicinal seeds, leaves, and wood. The Africa Bush Elephant is threatened with habitat loss, wildfire, and ivory.

African Bush Elephants have a typical shoulder height between 8.5’-13’ (2.6-4 m), body length of 10’-16.5’ (3-5 m), and width of 4.27’-6.89’ (1.3-2.1 m). The typical weight of the African Bush Elephant is in the range of 5,500-15,400 lb (2,500-7,000 kg). African Bush Elephants have lifespans between 60-75 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the African Bush Elephant viewed from the front and side
The African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) is the large living animal with bulls reaching a shoulder height of up to 4 meters, the largest living terrestrial animal is also known as the African Savanna Elephant. Both sexes have curved tusks that develop and are rising throughout their lives.

African Bush Elephants have a typical shoulder height between 8.5’-13’ (2.6-4 m), body length of 10’-16.5’ (3-5 m), and width of 4.27’-6.89’ (1.3-2.1 m). The typical weight of the African Bush Elephant is in the range of 5,500-15,400 lb (2,500-7,000 kg). African Bush Elephants have lifespans between 60-75 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the African Bush Elephant viewed from the front and side
African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Height:
8.5’-13’ | 2.6-4 m
Width:
4.27’-6.89’ | 1.3-2.1 m
Length:
10’-16.5’ | 3-5 m
Depth:
Weight:
5,500-15,400 lb | 2,500-7,000 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Loxodonta africana
Lifespan
60-75 years

Drawings include:

African Bush Elephant side elevation, front, back, lying down

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African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis)
Scale illustration of an average African Forest Elephant with dimensions length compared to a human and other elephants

African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta Cyclotis) originates from humid rainforests and the Congo Basin in West Africa. It is the smallest of the three species of living elephants to a height of 2.4 meters. Both sexes of the African Forest Elephant have straight down-pointing tusks, which erupt at the age of 1–3 years. The African forest elephant has a brown skin that appears yellow to reddish when wallowed. It resides in households of up to 20 elephants. It has been called the 'forest megagardener' since it is drilled on eating leaves, seeds, fruit, and tree bark.

African Forest Elephants have a typical shoulder height between 5.92’-9.83’ (1.8-3 m), body length of 7.22’-12.13’ (2.2-3.7 m), and width of 2.82’-4.59’ (.86-1.4 m). The typical weight of the African Forest Elephant is in the range of 8,818-13,889 lb (4,000-6,300 kg). African Forest Elephants have lifespans between 60-70 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the African Forest Elephant seen from the side and front
African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta Cyclotis) originates from humid rainforests and the Congo Basin in West Africa. It is the smallest of the three species of living elephants to a height of 2.4 meters. Both sexes of the African Forest Elephant have straight down-pointing tusks.

African Forest Elephants have a typical shoulder height between 5.92’-9.83’ (1.8-3 m), body length of 7.22’-12.13’ (2.2-3.7 m), and width of 2.82’-4.59’ (.86-1.4 m). The typical weight of the African Forest Elephant is in the range of 8,818-13,889 lb (4,000-6,300 kg). African Forest Elephants have lifespans between 60-70 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the African Forest Elephant seen from the side and front
African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis)
Height:
5.92’-9.83’ | 1.8-3 m
Width:
2.82’-4.59’ | .86-1.4 m
Length:
7.22’-12.13’ | 2.2-3.7 m
Depth:
Weight:
8,818-13,889 lb | 4,000-6,300 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Loxodonta cyclotis
Lifespan
60-70 years

Drawings include:

African Forest Elephant side elevation, front, back, walking

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Western Tree Hyrax (Dendrohyrax dorsalis)
Scale illustration of an average Western Tree Hyrax compared to other species of Hyrax

The Western Tree Hyrax (Dendrohyrax dorsalis) is endemic to west and central Africa, preferring woodland areas, savanna, and tropical rainforests. Other people call it the Beecroft's tree hyrax or western tree dassie. It looks like a rodent with short, coarse fur. Its rostrum lacks hair and beneath the chin is a white patch of fur. The tail is stumpy and the fur can be dark brown, black, or cream with scattered yellow hairs. Besides, it has small, rounded ears and a fur-free snout. It is solitary, arboreal, and nocturnal, and passes information via loud vocal calls. It is mainly herbivore and constantly hunted for its fur, which is highly valued.

Western Tree Hyraxes have a total body length between 17.3”-22.4” (44-57 cm), standing height of roughly 8.3”-10.6” | 21-27 cm, and body width of 5.9”-7.9” (15-20 cm). The typical weight of the Western Tree Hyrax is in the range of 2.2-11 lb (1-5 kg). Western Tree Hyraxes have lifespans between 5-14 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Western Tree Hyrax viewed from the front and side
The Western Tree Hyrax (Dendrohyrax dorsalis) is endemic to west and central Africa, preferring woodland areas, savanna, and tropical rainforests. Other people call it the Beecroft's tree hyrax or western tree dassie. It looks like a rodent with short, coarse fur.

Western Tree Hyraxes have a total body length between 17.3”-22.4” (44-57 cm), standing height of roughly 8.3”-10.6” | 21-27 cm, and body width of 5.9”-7.9” (15-20 cm). The typical weight of the Western Tree Hyrax is in the range of 2.2-11 lb (1-5 kg). Western Tree Hyraxes have lifespans between 5-14 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Western Tree Hyrax viewed from the front and side
Western Tree Hyrax (Dendrohyrax dorsalis)
Height:
8.3”-10.6” | 21-27 cm
Width:
5.9”-7.9” | 15-20 cm
Length:
17.3”-22.4” | 44-57 cm
Depth:
Weight:
2.2-11 lb | 1-5 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Dendrohyrax dorsalis
Lifespan
5-14 years

Drawings include:

Western Tree Hyrax side elevation, front

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Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox)
Scale illustration of an average Giant Otter Shrew compared to other African Insectivore species

The Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox) possesses both features of a shrew and an otter. The face is flat with stiff whiskers and a muscular tail. You can find it in the aquatic environments of Central and East Africa. It is nocturnal and carnivorous, feeding mainly on aquatic animals. Its fleshy muzzle is flat and broad, while the eyes and ears are small. The giant otter shrew has a thick round body covered in coarse guard hairs, while the tail is in a silky coat of fur. The legs are short but not webbed. It is a strong swimmer and is solitary, only meeting during mating with females giving birth to young live ones.

The Giant Otter Shrew has a body length in the range of 10.6”-13.8” (27-35 cm) and total weight of .88-1.72 lb (400-780 g). The Giant Otter Shrew has a rough standing height between 3.3”-4.3” (8.5-11 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.7” (7-9.5 cm), and tail length of 9.1”-11.4” (23-29 cm). The typical lifespan of the Giant Otter Shrew is between 3-5 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Giant Otter Shrew
The Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox) possesses both features of a shrew and an otter. The face is flat with stiff whiskers and a muscular tail. You can find it in the aquatic environments of Central and East Africa. It is nocturnal and carnivorous, feeding mainly on aquatic animals.

The Giant Otter Shrew has a body length in the range of 10.6”-13.8” (27-35 cm) and total weight of .88-1.72 lb (400-780 g). The Giant Otter Shrew has a rough standing height between 3.3”-4.3” (8.5-11 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.7” (7-9.5 cm), and tail length of 9.1”-11.4” (23-29 cm). The typical lifespan of the Giant Otter Shrew is between 3-5 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Giant Otter Shrew
Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox)
Height:
3.3”-4.3” | 8.5-11 cm
Width:
2.75”-3.7” | 7-9.5 cm
Length:
10.6”-13.8” | 27-35 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
.88-1.72 lb | 400-780 g
Area:

Tail Length: 9.1”-11.4” | 23-29 cm

Scientific Name
Potamogale velox
Lifespan
3-5 years

Drawings include:

Giant Otter Shrew side view, front

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