The larvae that live underground have spiny dorsal plates, while those of the Silpha (fig.
To the same cause is due the spiny margin of the holly-leaf.
Here the gravelly desert is characterized by cushion plants, such as Anabasis aretioides; by switch plants, such as Retama Retam; and specially by spiny plants, such as Zizyphus Lotus and Zilla macropteris; whereas succulent plants are rare.
But the way in which they usually diverge just over and in front of the eye has suggested the more probable idea, that they serve to guard these organs from thorns and spines while hunting for fallen fruits among the tangled thickets of rattans and other spiny plants.
The margins of these leaf-like branches are more or less crenately notched, the notches representing buds, as do the spine-clusters in the spiny genera; and from these crenatures the large showy flowers are produced.
The spiny rabbit, separated from Lepus by Blyth in 1845 under the name of Caprolagus hispidus, is an inhabitant of Assam and the adjacent districts, and distinguished by its harsh, bristly fur and short ears and tail.
Another species, Acanthus spinosus, is so called from its spiny leaves.
Giant cacti and spiny scrub abound.
In 1899 Dr Forsyth Major proposed a classification of the family in which a number of species were grouped with the spiny rabbit in the genus Caprolagus, whilst Oryctolagus was taken to include not only the common rabbit, but likewise the Cape hare.
In Assam there is a small spiny hare (Caprolagus hispidus), with the habits of a rabbit; and an allied species (Nesolagus nitscheri) inhabits Sumatra, and a third (Pentalagus furnessi) the Liu-kiu Islands.