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aardvark a large mammal with a long snout, long ears, a long tail, and almost no hair. Aardvarks are active at night, when they use their powerful claws to dig open ant or termite nests. They catch their food with long, sticky tongues. Aardvarks live in southern and central Africa. Although they are sometimes called anteaters, aardvarks are not closely related to any other kind of mammal.
algae organisms that live mainly in the water and make their food through photosynthesis. Algae are different from plants in that they have no true leaves, roots, or stems. Seaweeds are algae. "Algae" is a plural noun; the singular form is "alga."
alligator a large reptile with short legs, a long body and tail, and a long, wide snout. Alligators are protected by thick skin with many hard bumps. They live in rivers, lakes, swamps, and other bodies of water in the southeast United States and in China. They usually eat insects, fish, turtles, snakes, birds, and other water animals, but have been known to attack small land mammals. They are closely related to crocodiles. Chinese alligators are endangered because their habitat is being changed by people.
alpaca an animal with long legs and a long neck. Alpacas live in the mountains of South America. They are mammals closely related to llamas and to camels. Alpacas are raised for their long, soft wool.
amoeba a tiny living thing made of only one cell. Amoebas move by changing their shape. They eat by wrapping their bodies around their food. Amoebas live in fresh and salt water, soil, and in animals. Most kinds of amoebas can only be seen through a microscope.
amphibian a small animal that spends part of its life cycle in water and part of its life cycle on land. Amphibians hatch in water and breathe with gills. Then they develop lungs so the adults can breathe air. Amphibians are cold-blooded animals with skeletons inside their bodies. Frogs, toads, and salamanders are amphibians. [1/2 definitions]
anaconda a very large snake found in South America. Anacondas are not poisonous but kill other animals by squeezing them until they cannot breathe. Anacondas can grow to over twenty feet long.
anatomy the parts of a living thing and how they fit together. [1/2 definitions]
anteater a mammal that uses its long, sticky tongue to eat ants and termites. True anteaters have no teeth, are furry, and live in Central or South America. They are related to armadillos and sloths. Other kinds of mammals that eat ants are also sometimes called anteaters, but they are not related to American anteaters.
anthill a pile of earth made by ants as they dig their underground nest. Anthills are found near the nest entrance.
ape a mammal in the group of primates, which includes chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas, and orangutans. Apes do not have tails. They have very flexible hands and feet. Apes range in size from three to six feet tall, and they can weigh up to 450 pounds. Apes live in the forests in Africa and Asia. [1/2 definitions]
applesauce a sweet sauce made by cooking apples until they are soft.
are1 a form of the verb be that is present tense and used with the pronouns "you," "we," or "they." It is also used with plural nouns.
aristocracy a class of people who have a high social position because of the family they are born into. Members of the aristocracy are usually richer and have more privileges than other members of society. [1/2 definitions]
armadillo a mammal whose body is protected by hard, bony plates. Armadillos live in Central and South America, and the southern United States. Some kinds of armadillos are only six inches long; other kinds grow up to four feet in length. They eat mostly insects and are related to sloths and anteaters.
arthritis a disease of the joints in which they swell and become painful.
article the words "a," "an," and "the." They are used with nouns and limit the way nouns can be used. [1/4 definitions]
atom the smallest possible unit of a chemical element. The major parts of atoms contain protons, neutrons, and electrons. They are the basis of all matter in the universe. [1/2 definitions]
baboon a large monkey that has a long snout like a dog's. Baboons live on the ground in large groups in Africa and Arabia. They can be powerful fighters.
bacteria microscopic organisms that often play a role in the decay of living things, the process of fermentation, and sometimes in causing disease. Bacteria are each made up of only one cell, but different kinds of bacteria can take different shapes. These organisms live in all parts of the earth including oceans, deserts, glaciers, hot springs, and in the bodies of most living things. While some kinds of bacteria are dangerous, most kinds are useful because they help in the digestion of food, in the making of soil, in the creation of medicines, and in many other natural processes.
bacterium singular form of bacteria. Bacteria are tiny living things made up of one cell each. Bacteria live in most living things and in all parts of the earth. Most bacteria are useful to people, but some are harmful because they can cause disease.