Anteater is a common name for the four extant mammal species of the suborder Vermilingua (meaning “worm tongue”) commonly known for eating ants and termites. The individual species have other names in English and other languages. Together with the sloths, they are within the order Pilosa. The name “anteater” is also commonly applied to the unrelated aardvark, numbat, echidnas, pangolins, and some members of the Oecobiidae, although they are not closely related to them.
Extant species are the giant anteater Myrmecophaga tridactyla, about 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) long including the tail; the silky anteater Cyclopes didactylus, about 35 cm (14 in) long; the southern tamandua or collared anteater Tamandua tetradactyla, about 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) long; and the northern tamandua Tamandua mexicana of similar dimensions.
The four extant species of anteater
The anteaters are more closely related to the sloths than they are to any other group of mammals. Their next closest relations are armadillos.