Lynching a Pangolin


A Pakistani newspaper carried this odd item about a pangolin killed by superstitious villagers. As noted in the story, this is neither necessary nor constructive.


The pangolin (eight species in the primitive order Philodota, not closely related to anything else) is notable for having the longest tongue, proportionally, of any mammal. Its tongue is anchored in its pelvis and ribs, and when extended is longer than the rest of its body.  It has no teeth, but grinds its food with a gizzard-like structure in its stomach. With the pangolin, evolution revisited the idea of scaly armor. This insect-eater is hairy, like most mammals, but the hair on its back mats together to form hard scales. Like the nine-banded armadillo, the pangolin can roll into a ball, presenting only its armored back to predators. It also knows more aggressive ways of countering an attack. It has stout claws, can lash its armored tail like a whip, and, like the skunk, sprays a repulsive fluid from an anal gland. It can also pinch an attacker between its scales. People have received minor injuries from these sundry defensive measures.


Another demonstration of the power of the pangolin's defenses comes from this recent news item, in which one pangolin meets a pride of lions.



3 comments:

  1. I love pangolins. I've read an Asian species has been known to curl up in a ball to roll down hills, thus saving valuable time :D

    Also, heard once about a hunter who beat a pangolin to death, or so he thought; he then went back to his village wearing the limp pangolin over his shoulders. Unfortunately for the guy, the pangolin was only stunned, and when it woke up, it immediatly curled up in a ball and strangled the guy.

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  2. As in, strangled to death? That's a new one on me.

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  3. Yep, strangled to death. Probably not the pangolin's intention, tho...

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