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3 definitions found
 for meerkat
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Meerkat \Meer"kat\ (m[=e]r"k[a^]t), n. [D.] (Zool.)
     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)

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  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]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

      n 1: a mongoose-like viverrine of South Africa having a face
           like a lemur and only four toes [syn: meerkat, mierkat]

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