Pholidota


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Related to Pholidota: Tubulidentata, Sirenia, Scandentia, Hyracoidea, Manidae, Carnivora

Pholidota

[‚fäl·ə′dōd·ə]
(vertebrate zoology)
An order of mammals comprising the living pangolins and their fossil predecessors; characterized by an elongate tubular skull with no teeth, a long protrusive tongue, strong legs, and five-toed feet with large claws.

Pholidota

 

(pangolins), an order of mammals. The animals have a body length of 30-88 cm, a tail length of 30-88 cm, and a weight of 4.5-27 kg. They form an extremely distinctive and specialized group that shares several traits with the Edentata. Most of the body is covered with large, horny, rhomboid scales that overlap one another. The snout, abdomen, underparts, and inner surfaces of the legs are covered with short coarse hair. The coloration is grayish brown. The limbs have five-clawed digits adapted for digging. The snout is elongated, and the mouth is small. The animals have very few teeth or none at all. The tongue is 25 cm long and is coated with a sticky mucus, and the stomach is coated with a keratinous epithelium. A fold with hornlike teeth retracts into the stomach cavity.

The single genus, Manis, comprises seven species. Four species are distributed in equatorial and southern Africa, and the remaining three are found in Southeast Asia. Pangolins inhabit open areas and tropical forests and are terrestrial and arboreal animals. They emerge at night, hiding by day in burrows, tree hollows, and treetops. Their movements are sluggish, and, when alarmed, the animals curl into a ball. Pangolins feed on ants and termites. There is one litter annually, containing one to three offspring.

There are fossil remains from the Neogene in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Pangolins are hunted for their meat and for their scales, to which healing properties are attributed. Their numbers are small everywhere.

REFERENCE

Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.

O. L. ROSSOLIMO