The aardwolf is neither aardvark nor wolf. Their name, which means “earth wolf” in Afrikaans, refers to their underground dens and canine-like appearance (though they’re more closely related to cats).
Aardwolves are one of four hyena species in the subfamily Hyaenidae, along with spotted hyenas, striped hyenas, and brown hyenas. Like all hyenas, aardwolves’ front legs are longer than their back legs, allowing for a loping, low-energy gait that they can sustain for long distances. A mane running down their back can bristle up when agitated, making the animals look bigger than they are.
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