The aardwolf’s scientific name, Proteles cristata, orginates from Greek and Latin and refers to the five digits on its forepaws and its long, dorsal crest.
The aardwolf’s scientific name is Proteles cristata.
Proteles comes from two words, both of Greek origin, protos and teleos which combined means complete in front based on the fact that the aardwolf has five toes on its front feet and four on the rear, unlike other members of the Hyaenidae family. Aside from aardwolves, other members of the Hyaenidae family lack the pollex on the front foot and only have four digits on all four of their feet.
The specific name, cristatus, comes from Latin and means provided with a comb, relating to the aardwolf’s long mane. The coarse hairs of the aardwolf’s dorsal crest are the longest of all carnivores. The alternating black and white hairs of the aardwolf’s dorsal crest stand at about 70 millimeters on the back of the head, increasing to 200 millimeters on the shoulders, then decreasing to about 160 millimeters on the tail.