Habitat destruction is the process by which natural habitat becomes incapable of supporting its native species. In this process, the organisms that used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity is for the purpose of harvesting natural resources for industrial production and urbanization. Clearing habitats for agriculture is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging and urban sprawl. Habitat destruction is ranked as the primary cause of species extinction worldwide, it is a process of natural environmental change that may be caused by habitat fragmentation, geological processes, climate change or by human activities such as the introduction of invasive species, ecosystem nutrient depletion, other human activities. The terms habitat loss and habitat reduction are used in a wider sense, including loss of habitat from other factors, such as water and noise pollution. In the simplest term, when a habitat is destroyed, the plants and other organisms that occupied the habitat have a reduced carrying capacity so that populations decline and extinction becomes more likely.
The greatest threat to organisms and biodiversity is the process of habitat loss. Temple found that 82% of endangered bird species were threatened by habitat loss. Most amphibian species are threatened by habitat loss, some species are now only breeding in modified habitat. Endemic organisms with limited ranges are most affected by habitat destruction because these organisms are not found anywhere else within the world, thus have less chance of recovering. Many endemic organisms have specific requirements for their survival that can only be found within a certain ecosystem, resulting in their extinction. Extinction may take place long after the destruction of habitat, a phenomenon known as extinction debt. Habitat destruction can decrease the range of certain organism populations; this can result in the reduction of genetic diversity and the production of infertile youths, as these organisms would have a higher possibility of mating with related organisms within their population, or different species.
One of the most famous examples is the impact upon China's giant panda, once found across the nation. Now it is only found in fragmented and isolated regions in the southwest of the country, as a result of widespread deforestation in the 20th century. Biodiversity hotspots are chiefly tropical regions that feature high concentrations of endemic species and, when all hotspots are combined, may contain over half of the world’s terrestrial species; these hotspots are suffering from habitat destruction. Most of the natural habitat on islands and in areas of high human population density has been destroyed. Islands suffering extreme habitat destruction include New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan. South and East Asia — China, Malaysia and Japan — and many areas in West Africa have dense human populations that allow little room for natural habitat. Marine areas close to populated coastal cities face degradation of their coral reefs or other marine habitat; these areas include the eastern coasts of Asia and Africa, northern coasts of South America, the Caribbean Sea and its associated islands.
Regions of unsustainable agriculture or unstable governments, which may go hand-in-hand experience high rates of habitat destruction. Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazonian tropical rainforest areas of South America are the main regions with unsustainable agricultural practices and/or government mismanagement. Areas of high agricultural output tend to have the highest extent of habitat destruction. In the U. S. less than 25 % of native vegetation remains in many parts of the Midwest. Only 15% of land area remains unmodified by human activities in all of Europe. Tropical rainforests have received most of the attention concerning the destruction of habitat. From the 16 million square kilometers of tropical rainforest habitat that existed worldwide, less than 9 million square kilometers remain today; the current rate of deforestation is 160,000 square kilometers per year, which equates to a loss of 1% of original forest habitat each year. Other forest ecosystems have suffered as more destruction as tropical rainforests.
Farming and logging have disturbed at least 94% of temperate broadleaf forests. Tropical deciduous dry forests are easier to clear and burn and are more suitable for agriculture and cattle ranching than tropical rainforests. Plains and desert areas have been degraded to a lesser extent. Only 10-20% of the world's drylands, which include temperate grasslands and shrublands, deciduous forests, have been somewhat degraded, but included in that 10-20% of land is the 9 million square kilometers of seasonally dry-lands that humans have converted to deserts through the process of desertification. The tallgrass prairies of North America, on the other hand, have less than 3% of natural habitat remaining that has not been converted to farmland. Wetlands and marine areas have endured high levels of habitat destruction. More than 50% of wetlands in the U. S. have been destroyed in just the last 200 years. Between 60% and 70% of European wetlands have been destroyed. In the United Kingdom, there has been an i
Uromastyx is a genus of African and Asian agamid lizards, the member species of which are called spiny-tailed lizards, mastigures, or dabb lizards. Lizards in the genus Uromastyx are herbivorous, but eat insects and other small animals young lizards, they spend most of their waking hours basking in the sun, hiding in underground chambers at daytime or when danger appears. They tend to establish themselves in rocky areas with good shelter and accessible vegetation; the generic name is derived from the Ancient Greek words ourá meaning "tail" and -mastix meaning "whip" or "scourge", after the thick-spiked tail characteristic of all Uromastyx species. The following species are in the genus Uromastyx. Three additional species were placed in this genus, but have been moved to their own genus, Saara. Uromastyx acanthinura Bell, 1825 – Bell's dabb lizard Uromastyx aegyptia – Egyptian mastigure, Leptien's mastigure Uromastyx alfredschmidti Wilms & Böhme, 2001 – Schmidt's mastigure Uromastyx benti – Bent's mastigure Uromastyx dispar Heyden, 1827 – Sudan mastigure Uromastyx flavifasciata Mertens, 1962 Uromastyx maliensis Joger & Lambert, 1996 – Mali uromastyx Uromastyx geyri – Saharan spiny-tailed lizard Uromastyx macfadyeni Parker, 1932 – Macfadyen's mastigure Uromastyx nigriventris Rothschild & Hartert, 1912 Uromastyx occidentalis Mateo, Lopez-Jurado & Bons, 1999 – giant spiny-tailed lizard Uromastyx ocellata Lichtenstein, 1823 – eyed dabb lizard Uromastyx ornata Heyden, 1827 – ornate mastigure Uromastyx princeps O’Shaughnessy, 1880 – princely mastigure Uromastyx thomasi Parker, 1930 – Oman spiny-tailed lizard Uromastyx yemenensis Wilms & Schmitz, 2007 – Yemen spiny-tailed lizard Their size ranges from 25 cm to 91 cm or more.
Hatchlings or neonates are no more than 7–10 cm in length. Like many reptiles, these lizards' colors change according to the temperature, their spiked tail is muscular and heavy, can be swung at an attacker with great velocity accompanied by hissing and an open-mouthed display of teeth. Uromastyxs sleep in their burrows with their tails closest to the opening, in order to thwart intruders. Uromastyx inhabit a range stretching through most of North and Northeast Africa, the Middle East, ranging as far east as Iran. Species found further east are now placed in the genus Saara. Uromastyx occur at elevations from sea level to well over 900 m, they are eaten, sold in produce markets, by local peoples. Uromastyx tend to bask in areas with surface temperatures of over 50 °C. A female Uromastyx can lay anywhere depending on age and species. Eggs are laid 30 days following copulation with an incubation time of 70–80 days; the neonates are about 5 cm snout to vent length. They gain weight during the first few weeks following hatching.
A field study in Algeria concluded that Moroccan spiny-tailed lizards add 5 cm of total growth each year until around the age of 8–9 years. Wild female uromastyx are less colorful than males. For example, U. maliensis females are light tan with black dorsal spots, while males are bright yellow with mottled black markings. Females tend to have shorter claws. In captivity female U. maliensis tend to mimic males in color. Maliensis are, reputably difficult to breed in captivity; these lizards acquire most of the water. Giving a Uromastyx a water bowl can lead to higher humidity in the cage and can cause problems for the animal. Captive uromastyxs' diets should be herbivorous, consisting of endive, dandelion greens, bok choy and most ground growing vegetables with little to no sugar, or of course an appropriate type of store-bought vegetarian lizard food; some lettuces have no nutritive value. The lighter, whiter lettuce is not as nutritionally effective as the darker green lettuce, it is important to avoid spinach and flowering kale in the diets of all reptiles, since the oxalates in spinach prevent the uptake of calcium into the bloodstream.
However, a special UVB bulb must be used in order for them to absorb the calcium from the gut. They can consume de-thorned cacti with their powerful jaws if they need water; the lizards' food can be dusted with a calcium and a uromastyx designed supplement to help prevent health problems. While young uromastyx, like young iguanas, do eat some insects in order to gain access to the added nutrients while they are growing, the high levels of protein may cause liver damage in adults; these animals are herbivores, as stated above, so it's felt that they should only be fed plant matter. In the wild, adult Malis have been reported to eat insects at certain times of the year, when it is hot and their only food source available would be insects. Uromastyx maliensis, known as "ḍabb" by peninsular Arabs, is consumed as food by the Bedouin populations of the Arabian peninsula those residing in the interior regions of Saudi Arabia; this lizard is considered a "bedouin delicacy". It is recorded that when an Uromastyx was brought to the Prophet Muhammad by Bedouins, Muhammad did not eat the lizard but other Muslims were not prohibited by him from consuming it, so Muhammad's companion Khalid bin Walid consumed the lizard
Jabal Tuwaiq is a narrow escarpment that cuts through the plateau of Najd in central Arabia, running 800 km from the southern border of Al-Qasim in the north, to the northern edge of the Empty Quarter desert near Wadi ad-Dawasir in the south. It is 600 m high and has a Middle Jurassic stratigraphic section; the eastern side slopes downwards while the western side ends in an abrupt manner. The escarpment can be thought of as a narrow plateau. Marshall Cavendish used the name "Tuwayr Mountains" to describe mountains of central Arabia, distinct from the Shammar in the north, the Dhofar in the south, Hajar to the east. Many narrow valleys run along its sides, such as Wadi Hanifa, a group of towns lie on its central section, including the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Many settlements have existed on either side of it as well, such as those of Sudair and Al-Washm; the Tweig escarpment is mentioned in Yaqut's 13th century geographical encyclopedia under the name "Al-'Aridh", though for the past few centuries that name has applied only to the central section of it, around Riyadh.
In the framework of the recent Saudi tendency to promot entertainment, a group of 100 young hikers joined Tuwaiq Mountains Challenge in February, 2019. The hikers climped around 25km; the Arab-D unit of the Riyadh Group makes up one of the largest petroleum reservoirs in the world. Bureau and Saudi Aramco researchers conducted a high-resolution LIDAR survey of Middle Jurassic outcrops of the Tuwaiq Mountain limestone along the Tuwaiq Mountain Escarpment near the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; this study was a first step towards building a quantitative 3-D geologic model for use as an analog to the lower Arab-D reservoir. Outcrop analogs like this one are critical to understanding reservoir performance on the flow-unit scale. Although seismic data allow geologists to gain information about large-scale reservoir compartmentalization, flow-unit scale reservoir parameters are far below seismic imaging capability and inter-well spacing. High-precision laser scans were used as a template upon which stratigraphic interpretation were made allowing researchers to characterize sub-seismic, flow-unit scale reservoir properties of Jurassic bioherms in an effort to better understand optimum production techniques of this enormous reservoir
Rub' al Khali
The Rub' al Khali desert is the largest contiguous sand desert in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. The desert covers some 650,000 km2 including parts of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, it is part of the larger Arabian Desert. The desert is 1,000 kilometres long, 500 kilometres wide, its surface elevation varies from 800 metres in the southwest to around sea level in the northeast. The terrain is covered with sand dunes with heights up to 250 metres, interspersed with gravel and gypsum plains; the sand is of a reddish-orange color due to the presence of feldspar. There are brackish salt flats in some areas, such as the Umm al Samim area on the desert's eastern edge. Ali Al-Naimi reports, he goes on to say, Sand blows off the surface, of course, but the essential shape of the dunes remains intact due to the moisture leaching up into the base of the dunes from the surrounding sabkhas. Along the middle length of the desert there are a number of raised, hardened areas of calcium carbonate, marl, or clay that were once the site of shallow lakes.
These lakes existed during periods from 3,000 to 2,000 years ago. The lakes are thought to have formed as a result of "cataclysmic rainfall" similar to present-day monsoon rains and most lasted for only a few years. However, lakes in the Mundafen area in the southwest of the Rub' al Khali show evidence of lasting longer, up to 800 years, due to increased runoff from the Tuwaiq Escarpment. Evidence suggests that the lakes were home to a variety of fauna. Fossil remains indicate the presence of several animal species, such as hippopotamus, water buffalo, long-horned cattle; the lakes contained small snails and when conditions were suitable, freshwater clams. Deposits of calcium carbonate and opal phytoliths indicate the presence of plants and algae. There is evidence of human activity dating from 3,000 to 2,000 years ago, including chipped flint tools, but no actual human remains have been found; the region is classified as "hyper-arid", with annual precipitation less than 35 millimetres, daily mean relative humidity of about 52% in January and 15% in June-July.
Daily maximum temperatures average 47 °C in July and August, reaching peaks of 51 °C. The daily minimum average is 12 °C in February, although frosts have been recorded. Daily extremes of temperature are considerable. Fauna includes rodents, while plants live throughout the Empty Quarter; as an ecoregion, the Rub' al Khali falls within the Arabian Desert and East Saharo-Arabian xeric shrublands. The Asiatic cheetahs, once widespread in Saudi Arabia, are regionally extinct from the desert. Shaybah oil field was discovered in 1968. South Ghawar, the largest oil field in the world, extends southward into the northernmost parts of the Empty Quarter. Desertification has increased through recent millennia. Before desertification made the caravan trails leading across the Rub' al Khali so difficult, the caravans of the frankincense trade crossed now impassable stretches of wasteland, until about CE 300, it has been suggested that a lost city, region or people, depended on such trade. The archaeological remains include a fortification/administration building and bases of circular pillars.
The traces of camel tracks, unidentifiable on the ground, appear in satellite images. Today the inhabitants of the Empty Quarter are members of various local tribes – for example, the Al Murrah tribe has the largest area based between Al-Ahsa and Najran; the Banu Yam and Banu Hamdan, the Bani Yas. A few road links connect these tribal settlements to the area's water resources and oil production centers; the first documented journeys by non-resident explorers were made by British explorers Bertram Thomas and St. John Philby in the early 1930s. Between 1946 and 1950, Wilfred Thesiger crossed the area several times and mapped large parts of the Empty Quarter including the mountains of Oman, as described in his 1959 book Arabian Sands. In June 1950, a US Air Force expedition crossed the Rub' al Khali from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to central Yemen and back in trucks to collect specimens for the Smithsonian Institution and to test desert survival procedures. In 1999, Jamie Clarke became the first Westerner to cross the Empty Quarter of Arabia in fifty years.
His team of six, including three Bedouin, spent 40 days crossing the desert with a caravan of 13 camels. On 25 February 2006, a scientific excursion organized by the Saudi Geological Survey began to explore the Empty Quarter; the expedition consisted of 89 environmentalists and scientists from Saudi Arabia and abroad. Various types of fossilized creatures as well as meteorites were discovered in the desert; the expedition discovered 31 new plant species and plant varieties, as well as 24 species of birds that inhabit the region, which fascinated scientists as to how they have survived under the harsh conditions of the Empty Quarter. In 2012, Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron pulled a specially designed cart from Salalah to Dubai, they produced a documentary film about their journey and how it compared to those of Wilfred Thesiger. On 4 February 2013, a South African team including Alex Harris, Marco Broccardo, David Joyce claimed that they became the first people to cross the border close to Oman of the Empty Quarter unsupported and on foot, in a journey whi
The Persian Gulf is a mediterranean sea in Western Asia. The body of water is an extension of the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz and lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest; the Shatt al-Arab river delta forms the northwest shoreline. The body of water is and internationally known as the "Persian Gulf"; some Arab governments refer to it as the "Arabian Gulf" or "The Gulf", but neither term is recognized internationally. The name "Gulf of Iran" is used by the International Hydrographic Organization; the Persian Gulf was a battlefield of the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers. It is the namesake of the 1991 Gulf War, the air- and land-based conflict that followed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; the gulf has many fishing grounds, extensive reefs, abundant pearl oysters, but its ecology has been damaged by industrialization and oil spills. The Persian Gulf resides in the Persian Gulf Basin, of Cenozoic origin and related to the subduction of the Arabian Plate under the Zagros Mountains.
The current flooding of the basin started 15,000 years ago due to rising sea levels of the Holocene glacial retreat. This inland sea of some 251,000 square kilometres is connected to the Gulf of Oman in the east by the Strait of Hormuz. In Iran this is called "Arvand Rood", where "Rood" means "river", its length is 989 kilometres, with Iran covering most of the northern coast and Saudi Arabia most of the southern coast. The Persian Gulf is about 56 km wide in the Strait of Hormuz; the waters are overall shallow, with a maximum depth of 90 metres and an average depth of 50 metres. Countries with a coastline on the Persian Gulf are: Iran. Various small islands lie within the Persian Gulf, some of which are the subject of territorial disputes between the states of the region; the International Hydrographic Organization defines the Persian Gulf's southern limit as "The Northwestern limit of Gulf of Oman". This limit is defined as "A line joining Ràs Limah on the coast of Arabia and Ràs al Kuh on the coast of Iran".
The gulf is connected to Indian Ocean through Strait of Hormuz. Writing the water balance budget for the Persian Gulf, the inputs are river discharges from Iran and Iraq, as well as precipitation over the sea, around 180mm/year in Qeshm Island; the evaporation of the sea is high, so that after considering river discharge and rain contributions, there is still a deficit of 416 cubic kilometers per year. This difference is supplied by currents at the Strait of Hormuz; the water from the Gulf has a higher salinity, therefore exits from the bottom of the Strait, while ocean water with less salinity flows in through the top. Another study revealed the following numbers for water exchanges for the Gulf: evaporation = -1.84m/year, precipitation = 0.08m/year, inflow from the Strait = 33.66m/year, outflow from the Strait = -32.11m/year, the balance is 0m/year. Data from different 3D computational fluid mechanics models with spatial resolution of 3 kilometers and depth each element equal to 1–10 meters are predominantly used in computer models.
The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the world's largest single source of crude oil, related industries dominate the region. Safaniya Oil Field, the world's largest offshore oilfield, is located in the Persian Gulf. Large gas finds have been made, with Qatar and Iran sharing a giant field across the territorial median line. Using this gas, Qatar has built up a substantial liquefied natural petrochemical industry. In 2002, the Persian Gulf nations of Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE produced about 25% of the world's oil, held nearly two-thirds of the world's crude oil reserves, about 35% of the world's natural gas reserves; the oil-rich countries that have a coastline on the Persian Gulf are referred to as the Persian Gulf States. Iraq's egress to the gulf is narrow and blockaded consisting of the marshy river delta of the Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, where the east bank is held by Iran. In 550 BC, the Achaemenid Empire established the first ancient empire in Persis, in the southwestern region of the Iranian plateau.
In the Greek sources, the body of water that bordered this province came to be known as the "Persian Gulf". During the years 550 to 330 BC, coinciding with the sovereignty of the Achaemenid Persian Empire over the Middle East area the whole part of the Persian Gulf and some parts of the Arabian Peninsula, the name of "Pars Sea" is found in the compiled written texts. In the travel account of Pythagoras, several chapters are related to description of his travels accompanied by the Achaemenid king Darius the Great, to Susa and Persepolis, the area is described. From among the writings of others in the same period, there is the inscription and engraving of Darius the Great, installed at junction of waters of Red Sea and the Nile river and the Rome river which belongs to t
Oman the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Its official religion is Islam. Holding a strategically important position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the country shares land borders with the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, Yemen to the southwest, shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan; the coast is formed by the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The Madha and Musandam exclaves are surrounded by the UAE on their land borders, with the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman forming Musandam's coastal boundaries. From the late 17th century, the Omani Sultanate was a powerful empire, vying with Portugal and the UK for influence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. At its peak in the 19th century, Omani influence or control extended across the Strait of Hormuz to modern-day Iran and Pakistan, as far south as Zanzibar; when its power declined in the 20th century, the sultanate came under the influence of the United Kingdom.
For over 300 years, the relations built between the two empires were based on mutual benefits. The UK recognized Oman's geographical importance as a trading hub that secured their trade lanes in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean and protected their empire in the Indian sub-continent. By contrast, the British strengthened Oman's internal unity and allied the sultanate against external threats. Muscat was the principal trading port of the Persian Gulf region. Muscat was among the most important trading ports of the Indian Ocean; the Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has been the hereditary leader of the country, an absolute monarchy, since 1970. Sultan Qaboos is the longest-serving current ruler in the Middle East, third-longest current reigning monarch in the world. Oman is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, it has ranking 25th globally. In 2010, the United Nations Development Programme ranked Oman as the most improved nation in the world in terms of development during the preceding 40 years.
A significant portion of its economy involves tourism and trade of fish and certain agricultural produce. Oman is categorized as a high-income economy and ranks as the 70th most peaceful country in the world according to the Global Peace Index. At Aybut Al Auwal, in the Dhofar Governorate of Oman, a site was discovered in 2011 containing more than 100 surface scatters of stone tools, belonging to a regionally specific African lithic industry—the late Nubian Complex—known only from the northeast and Horn of Africa. Two optically stimulated luminescence age estimates place the Arabian Nubian Complex at 106,000 years old; this supports the proposition that early human populations moved from Africa into Arabia during the Late Pleistocene. In recent years known from survey finds and Neolithic sites have come to light most on the eastern coast. Main Palaeolithic sites include Saiwan-Ghunaim in the Barr al-Hikman. Archaeological remains are numerous for the Bronze Age Umm an-Nar and Wadi Suq periods.
Sites such as Bat show professional wheel-turned pottery, excellent hand-made stone vessels, a metals industry, monumental architecture. The Early and Late Iron Ages show more differences than similarities to each other. Thereafter, until the coming of the Ibadhidya, little or nothing is known. Sumerian tablets refer to a country called Magan and Akkadian ones Makan, a name which links Oman's ancient copper resources. Mazoon, a Persian name used for the region. Over centuries tribes from the west settled in Oman, making a living by fishing, herding or stock breeding, many present day Omani families trace their ancestral roots to other parts of Arabia; when the emigrants from northern-western and south-western Arabia arrived in Oman, they had to compete with the indigenous population for the best arable land. In the 1970s and 1980s scholars like John C. Wilkinson believed by virtue of oral history that in the 6th century BC, the Achaemenids exerted control over the Omani peninsula, most ruling from a coastal center such as Suhar.
Central Oman has its own indigenous Samad Late Iron Age cultural assemblage named eponymously from Samad al-Shan. In the northern part of the Oman Peninsula the Recent Pre-Islamic Period begins in the 3rd century BC and extends into the 3rd century AD. Whether or not Persians brought south-eastern Arabian under their control is a moot point, since the lack of Persian finds speak against this belief. Four centuries Omanis came in contact with and accepted Islam; the conversion of Oman is ascribed to Amr ibn al-As, sent by the prophet Muhammad during the Expedition of Zaid ibn Haritha. A decade after Vasco da Gama's successful voyage around the Cape of Good Hope and to India in 1497–98, the Portuguese arrived in Oman and occupied Muscat for a 143-year period, from 1507 to 1650, their fortress still remains. In need of an outpost to protect their sea lanes, the Portuguese built up and fortified the city, where remnants of their colonial architectural style still exist. An Ottoman fleet captured Muscat in 1552, during the fight for control of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
The Ottoman Turks captured Muscat from the Portuguese in 1581 and held it until 1588. Rebellious tribes drove out the Portuguese, but were themselves pushed out about a century in 1741, by the leader of an Omani tribe, who began the current line of ruling sultans. Except for a brief Persian invasion in the late 1
The honey badger known as the ratel, is distributed in Africa, Southwest Asia, in the Indian subcontinent. Because of its wide range and occurrence in a variety of habitats, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, it is the only species in its only genus Mellivora. Despite its name, the honey badger does not resemble other badger species, it is a carnivorous species and has few natural predators because of its thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities. Notorious for their strength and toughness, honey badgers have been known to attack and repel any kind of animal when escape is impossible much larger predators like lions, they are listed as the "world's most fearless animal" in the Guinness Book of World Records due to their fearlessness. The honey badger is the only species of the genus Mellivora. Although in the 1860s it was assigned to the badger subfamily, the Melinae, it is now agreed that it bears few similarities to the Melinae, it is much more related to the marten subfamily, but furthermore is assigned its own subfamily, Mellivorinae.
Differences between Mellivorinae and Melinae include differences in their dentition formulae. Though not in the same subfamily as the wolverines, which are a genus of large-sized and atypical Mustelinae, the honey badger can be regarded as another, form of outsized weasel or polecat; the species first appeared during the middle Pliocene in Asia. Its closest relation was the extinct genus Eomellivora, known from the upper Miocene, evolved into several different species throughout the whole Pliocene in both the Old and New World; as of 2005, 12 subspecies are recognised. Points taken into consideration in assigning different subspecies include size and the extent of whiteness or greyness on the back; the honey badger has a long body, but is distinctly thick-set and broad across the back. Its skin is remarkably loose, allows it to turn and twist within it; the skin around the neck is 6 millimetres thick, an adaptation to fighting conspecifics. The head is flat, with a short muzzle; the eyes are small, the ears are little more than ridges on the skin, another possible adaptation to avoiding damage while fighting.
The honey badger has sturdy legs, with five toes on each foot. The feet are armed with strong claws, which are short on the hind legs and remarkably long on the forelimbs, it is a plantigrade animal whose soles are thickly padded and naked up to the wrists. The tail is covered in long hairs, save for below the base. Honey badgers are the largest terrestrial mustelids in Africa. Adults measure 23 to 28 cm in shoulder height and 55–77 cm in body length, with the tail adding another 12–30 cm. Females are smaller than males. In Africa, males weigh; the mean weight of adult honey badgers from different areas has been reported at anywhere between 6.4 to 12 kg, with a median of 9 kg, per various studies. This positions it as the third largest known badger, after the European badger and hog badger, fourth largest extant terrestrial mustelid after additionally the wolverine. However, the average weight of three wild females from Iraq was reported as 18 kg, about the typical size of the males from largest-bodied populations of wolverines or from male European badgers in late autumn, indicating that they can attain much larger than typical sizes in favorable conditions.
Skull length is 13 cm for females. There are two pairs of mammae; the honey badger possesses an anal pouch which, unusual among mustelids, is eversible, a trait shared with hyenas and mongooses. The smell of the pouch is "suffocating", may assist in calming bees when raiding beehives; the skull bears little similarity to that of the European badger, resembles a larger version of that of a marbled polecat. The skull is solidly built, with that of adults having no trace of an independent bone structure; the braincase is broader than that of dogs. The dental formula is: 188.8.131.52.1.3.1. The teeth display signs of irregular development, with some teeth being exceptionally small, set at unusual angles or absent altogether. Honey badgers of the subspecies signata have a second lower molar on the left side of their jaws, but not the right. Although it feeds predominantly on soft foods, the honey badger's cheek teeth are extensively worn; the canine teeth are exceptionally short for carnivores. The tongue has backward-pointing papillae which assist it in processing tough foods.
The winter fur is long, consists of sparse, bristle-like hairs, with minimal underfur. Hairs are sparser on the flanks and groin; the summer fur is shorter and sparser, with the belly being half bare. The sides of the head and lower body are pure black. A large white band covers the upper body, from the top of the head to the base of the tail. Honey badgers of the cottoni subspecies are unique in being black. Although solitary, honey badgers may hunt together in pairs during the May breeding season. Little is known of the honey badger's breeding habits, its gestation period is thought to last six months resulting in two cubs, which are born blind. They vocalise through plaintive whines, its lifespan in the wild is unknown, though captive individuals have been known to live for approx