Inspiration, biomimicry, horses, and lots of science talk.
Friday, March 16, 2012
What in the World? A Pangolin...
So continuing with my month of exotic animal posts, today is all about the only scaled mammal, the Pangolin. Many people are confused by this animal because it looks like a reptile crossed with a weasel and a dash of armadillo thrown in. Pangolin's live mainly in Africa and some parts of India and Southern Asia. It is a mammal the only kind with keratin scales covering its body. When pangolin's are born the scales are soft and harden. Keratin is the same material in our hair, nails, and even in rhino horns.
Pangolin's has long claws and either live in trees or large underground boroughs. Their front claws are so long they cannot walk flat footed and instead walk with their front feet curled under. Pangolin's have no teeth instead they tear apart trees or termite mounds and use their long tongue to slurp out insects and grubs. The tongues of Pangolin's are extra long and appear longer because they are unattached to their hyroid bone. So their tongues extend all the way into their abdominal cavity. When pangolin's are sleeping or scared they can curl into a ball like an armadillo. They are nocturnal animals so they are most active at night. The pangolin has a prehensile tail and can hang from it, often to get tasty insects.
Scientists have a hard time classifying exactly which animals are related to Pangolin's, currently they are listed in the order Pholidata with lots of now extinct animals. There is a lot of debate if they actually belong there, a large number of scientists believe they should be grouped sloths and anteaters in the Xenarthra order. The debate on where the Pangolin's should be classified tells me they are a very unique creature who has convergently evolved similar characteristics as several other species. I think all can agree this is a special creature with lots of special attributes.