Learn more about Pangolin
Pangolins (pronounced /ˈpæŋgəlɪn/) or scaly anteaters are mammals in the order Pholidota. There is only one extant family (Manidae) and one genus (Manis) of pangolins, comprising eight species. Pangolins have large scales on their skin and are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name "pangolin" is derived from the Malay word pengguling ("something that rolls up").
In older classifications, pangolins were classified with varying other orders, for example Edentata, which includes the ordinary anteaters. Newer genetic evidence,<ref>Sciencemag.org</ref> however, indicates that the closest living relatives of pangolins are carnivores. Some paleontologists have classified the pangolins in the order Cimolesta, together with several extinct groups.
 Physical description and behavior
The physical appearance of pangolins is marked by large, hardened, plate-like scales. The scales are made of keratin, the same material that human hair is made of. They are often compared to walking pinecones or globe artichokes. They can curl up into a ball when threatened, with their overlapping scales acting as armour. 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. The front claws of the pangolin are so long that they are unsuited for walking, and so the pangolin walks in a hunched-over manner on its hind legs, balanced by its large tail. 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.
Pangolins hunt by breaking into large termite or ant colonies with their front claws. Some species, such as the Tree Pangolin, use their strong tails to hang from tree branches and strip away bark from the trunk, exposing insect nests inside.
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 their chests to lubricate the tongue with sticky, ant-catching saliva.
Gestation is 120-150 days. Females usually give birth to a single offspring, but occasionally to two, and, rarely, three. Birth weight is between 80-450 g (3-18 ounces) each.
Pangolin is eaten as a type of bush meat 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. The Chinese believe scales of pangolin reduce swelling, promote blood circulation and help breast-feeding women produce milk. A large number of pangolins are slaughtered for medical use.
- Order Pholidota
- Family Epoicotheriidae' (extinct)
- Family Metacheiromyidae' (extinct)
- Family Manidae
- Subfamily Eurotamandua (extinct)
- Subfamily Maninae
- Genus Eomanis (extinct)
- Genus Necromanis (extinct)
- Genus Patriomanis (extinct)
- Genus Manis (Manis)
- Genus Manis (Paramanis)
- Genus Manis (Smutsia)
- Genus Manis (Phataginus)
- Tree Pangolin (M. tricuspis)
- Genus Manis (Uromanis)
- Long-tailed Pangolin (M. tetradactyla)
 External links
- Pangolin: Wildlife summary from the African Wildlife Foundation
- A photograph of a pangolin
- Tree of Life of Pholidota
|Extant mammal orders by subclass|
| Australosphenida: Monotremata
Placentalia: Afrosoricida · Macroscelidea · Tubulidentata · Hyracoidea · Proboscidea · Sirenia · Cingulata · Pilosa · Scandentia · Dermoptera · Primates · Rodentia · Lagomorpha · Insectivora · Chiroptera · Pholidota · Carnivora · Perissodactyla · Artiodactyla · Cetacea
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