The Only Mammal With Scales Is The?
The pangolin is one of the world’s more curious creatures and among mammals is it absolutely unique due to the hard scales that cover it from the crest of its head to the tip of its tail. Pangolins have plate-like scales made of keratin (the same hard material that makes up human fingernails) which are sharp on the edges, overlap significantly like the scales of a fish, and protect the pangolin when it rolls up tightly in a ball (turning itself into an armadillo like bundle bristling with sharp scales).
The creature’s name itself actually derives from its propensity to roll up in self defense; the name “pangolin” is derived from the Malay word “pengguling” which means “something that rolls up”. The eight pangolin species are found throughout Africa and Asia and are considered critically endangered due to heavy deforestation of their natural habitats and extensive hunting (for their meat and armor).
Like the giant anteater (which it resembles but is not immediately related to), the pangolin has a very large extendable tongue that it can reach out over a foot in length with to probe for insects.
Image courtesy of Piekfrosch.