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Pangolin

Pangolins or scaly anteaters are mammals in the Pholidota order. There is only one family (Manidae) and one genus (Manis) of pangolins, comprising eight species. Pangolins have large scales on their skin and are found in parts of Africa and Asia. more...

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The name "pangolin" is derived from the Malay word pengguling ("curling").

Physical description and behavior

The physical appearance of pangolins is marked by large, hardened, plate-like scales, which are an unusual feature among mammals. They are often compared to walking pinecones or artichokes (see picture). They can curl up into a ball when threatened, with their overlapping scales acting as armor. The scales on newborn pangolins are soft but harden as they mature. The pangolin's scales are razor-sharp, and provide extra defense for this reason. Although not their primary weapon, the powerful legs of pangolins—used for digging through hard ground—are strong enough to break a human leg in one blow. The pangolin can also emit a noxious smelling acid from glands near the anus, similar to the spray of a skunk. Pangolins have short legs, with sharp claws which they use for burrowing.

The size of pangolins vary by species, ranging from 30 cm to 100 cm. Females are generally smaller than males.

Diet

Pangolins lack teeth and the ability to chew. Instead, they tear open anthills or termite mounds with their powerful front claws and probe deep into them with their very long tongues. Pangolins have an enormous salivary gland in the chest to lubricate the tongue with sticky, ant-catching saliva.

Decline in population

Pangolin is eaten as a type of bushmeat in parts of Africa. This, coupled with deforestation, has led to a large decrease in the numbers of giant pangolins, which are now an endangered species. In China, scales of Pangolin purportedly reduce swelling, promote blood circulation and help breast-feeding mother produce milk. A large number of Pangolins are slaughtered for medical use.

Taxonomy

  • Order Pholidota
    • Family Manidae
      • Genus Manis
        • Palawan Pangolin (M. culionensis)
        • Giant Pangolin (M. gigantea)
        • Temminck's Pangolin (Cape Pangolin) (M. temmincki)
        • Tree Pangolin (M. tricuspis)
        • Long-tailed Pangolin (M. tetradactyla)
        • Indian Pangolin (M. crassicaudata)
        • Chinese Pangolin (M. pentadactyla)
        • Malayan Pangolin (M. javanica)

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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