mierkat
Meerkat Meer"kat (m[=e]r"k[a^]t), n. [D.] (Zo["o]l.) A South African carnivore ({Suricata suricata}, formerly {Cynictis penicillata}), allied to the ichneumons, having a lemurlike face and only four toes; called also {yellow mongoose} and {suricate}. [Also spelled {mierkat}.] [1913 Webster]

While his compatrioits scuffle about in the sand for delicious scorpions or fat, tasty mice, one meerkat stands alone, bolt upright on an exposed perch, scanning for hawks with dark eyes wide, ready to call out at the first sign of danger. Like other such guards in the animal kingdom, these endearingly vulnerable meerkat sentinels have long impressed biologists as true altruists -- creatures willing to forgo food and brave danger to protect others. Now a study in the current Science suggests that these beasts may not be such adorable heroes after all. Researchers have discovered that meerkats abandon their hunting to act as guards only when their bellies are good and full. And they appear to do so, not as an act of noble daring, but because by being the first to see a predator, they can be sure of being the first down a hole and out of harm's way. Standing guard, researchers concluded, may be the safest thing to do once a meerkat has had enough to eat. . . . Even the adorable meerkat may yet redeem itself as a bit of an altruist. Although being a sentinel may itself not entail great risk, it is hard to imagine a selfish reason for their giving a shout of warning before dashing for cover. . . . --Carol Kaesuk Yoon (N. Y. Times, June 8, 1999 p. F3) [PJC]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • mierkat — n. (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricata}) having a lemurlike face and only four toes; called also {suricate}. [Also spelled {meerkat}.] Syn: meerkat. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mierkat — suricat su ri*cat, suricate su ri*cate(s[umsc] r[i^]*k[a^]t), n. [F. surikate, from the native name in South Africa.] (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricatta} or {Suricata tetradactyla}) having a lemurlike face and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mierkat — noun a mongoose like viverrine of South Africa having a face like a lemur and only four toes • Syn: ↑meerkat • Hypernyms: ↑viverrine, ↑viverrine mammal • Hyponyms: ↑slender tailed meerkat, ↑Suricata suricatta, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • mierkat — also spelled  Meerkat,         common name for certain carnivores of the civet family (Viverridae): the suricate (meerkat) (q.v.) and various mongoose (q.v.) species. * * * …   Universalium

  • meerkat — mierkat mierkat n. (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricata}) having a lemurlike face and only four toes; called also {suricate}. [Also spelled {meerkat}.] Syn: meerkat. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Suricata suricata — mierkat mierkat n. (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricata}) having a lemurlike face and only four toes; called also {suricate}. [Also spelled {meerkat}.] Syn: meerkat. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • suricate — mierkat mierkat n. (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricata}) having a lemurlike face and only four toes; called also {suricate}. [Also spelled {meerkat}.] Syn: meerkat. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • suricat — su ri*cat, suricate su ri*cate(s[umsc] r[i^]*k[a^]t), n. [F. surikate, from the native name in South Africa.] (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricatta} or {Suricata tetradactyla}) having a lemurlike face and only four… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Suricata suricatta — suricat su ri*cat, suricate su ri*cate(s[umsc] r[i^]*k[a^]t), n. [F. surikate, from the native name in South Africa.] (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricatta} or {Suricata tetradactyla}) having a lemurlike face and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Suricata tetradactyla — suricat su ri*cat, suricate su ri*cate(s[umsc] r[i^]*k[a^]t), n. [F. surikate, from the native name in South Africa.] (Zool.) A South African mongooselike viverrine ({Suricata suricatta} or {Suricata tetradactyla}) having a lemurlike face and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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