The pangolin is a unique creature related to the anteater and armadillo. They eat ants with a very long tongue, roll up into a ball when threatened, carry extremely sharp claws, and have the very unique feature of being the only mammal to be completely covered in scales. These scales are made up of keratin, which is the same as our fingernails, and serve to protect the creature like a full set of armor. The pangolin usually grows to about a meter long and is a warm-blooded mammal.
The pangolin’s scales never stop growing, and new ones continually grow underneath old one to replace the armor as soon as an old one falls off.
Because they don’t have teeth, Pangolins eat small stones to help with the digestion of their ant meals. One of these mammals can eat up to 70 million insects each year, and so are crucial to keep the voracious insect populations in check. Their tongue is astonishingly long, and can reach up to half a meter long, which is roughly half of its body length.
The ear, which can be seen as the little disk on the side of its head, can be consciously closed by the Pangolin to avoid ants from crawling inside when it is eating.
Pangolins are found in many regions, including China and Africa, where they have been hunted to almost extinction. In many other parts of the world, they are also endangered from the uncontrolled hunting for its scales, tasty meat, and medicinal qualities. In 1820, this Rajastan armor coat, covered in pangolin scales and embellished with gold, was given to King George III as a foreign relations gift.
Many other clothes have these unique keratin scales, and the Chinese use the scales today as medicine for various purposes. To read more and see more pictures, click here.
(via Dark Roasted Blend)