Jan 5, 2011

Scaly baby ugly!

Is that a dinosaur? A walking pine cone? Some kind of lizard? No, that's a mom and baby pangolin at the Taipei Zoo.

Pangolins have got to be one of the best ugly mammals ever. If you're looking for any kind of conventional beauty, you won't find it here. They start at a pointy little heads, get much fatter in the middle, and end with a long scaly tail. Yes, they're completely covered with scales! No other mammal can boast of that. Here's a better view of one:

And here's an angle on this ground-dwelling, digging creature that you won't see often:

In fact, there's not much chance of seeing a pangolin from any angle - they're noctural and not kept in very many zoos. Pangolins are sometimes called scaly anteaters and used to be classified with my favorite order, the Xenarthra, which includes sloths, anteaters, and armadillos. They have some similarities, such as the long anteater-like tongue, but they're now considered to be in their own family.

The scales are made of keratin, same as your hair and nails. Fortunately for the mom, the baby's scales are soft to start and only harden after they are born.

-Wombat (No Relation)

Thanks for the baby tip to Zooborns, and for the other pictures to Flickr user shakingwave.


Anonymous said...

Yay, one of my favorite critters! I love how completely bizarre they are. Mammal with... scales... riiight.

Adorably Dead said...

Look at that tiny thing. It's so odd looking. I love it.

Jessica Olin said...

I disagree, Mr. Wombat. Pangolins are cuties. (But I don't mind seeing them here.)

wombat said...

After careful consideration, I have concluded that while "ugly" is the opposite of "beautiful," it does not neccesarily follow from that that "ugly" is the opposite of "cute."

Anonymous said...

Pangolin babies ride on their mother's tail.

Ugly Animals said...

Mammal with scales? Now that is what I call as GOD's creature at its best! GOD is mysterious and so is nature! Don't you agree with me?

carnifex said...

awww they're so CUTE!