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Longtail pangolin.jpg
Long-tailed pangolin
Manis tetradactyla
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Mammalia
Sub-class Theriiformes
Infra-class Holotheria
Order Information
Superorder Preptotheria
Order Pholidota
Family Information
Family Manidae
Genus Information
Genus Manis
Species Information
Species M. pentadactyla
M. gigantea
M. temmincki
M. crassicaudata
M. tetradactyla
M. culionensis
M. javanica
M. tricuspis
Population statistics

Pangolins or scaly anteaters are several species of African and Asian mammals of the order Pholidota, characterized by the presence of large scales over much of their body, the only mammals to possess such a feature.


The eight living species of pangolins share a close resemblance to the New World anteaters. Pangolins are one to three feet in length excluding the tail, which in most of the species is prehensile; the long-tailed pangolin (Manis tetradactyla) has a tail twice its body length. The head is small relative to the body and conical in shape, with small eyes and ears; the long muzzle is toothless, and bears a tongue up to ten inches in length. The legs are short, bearing five, sharply-clawed toes, enabling the animal to pry apart termite mounds and insect nests under tree bark.

The scales are the most distinctive feature. Made of keratin, the scales serve as protective armor; indeed, the name comes from the Malay pengguling, a reference to the habit of the animal to roll up into a protective ball during a predatory attack. In addition to the scales, pangolins emit a foul-smelling secretion from their anal glands.

Living Species

  • Genus Manis
Chinese pangolin, M. pentadactyla
Giant pangolin, M. gigantea
Ground pangolin, M. temmincki
Indian pangolin, M. crassicaudata
Long-tailed pangolin, M. tetradactyla
Philippine pangolin, M. culionensis
Sunda pangolin, M. javanica
Tree pangolin, M. tricuspis

Pangolins and the coronavirus pandemic

See also: Atheism and the coronavirus pandemic and Dietary practices of atheists

Pangolin have large, keratin scales covering their skin. They are the only known mammals who have this feature.

Nature Research indicates:

Researchers in Guangzhou, China, have suggested that pangolins — long-snouted, ant-eating mammals often used in traditional Chinese medicine — are the probable animal source of the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 30,000 people and is wreaking havoc worldwide.

Scientists say that the suggestion, based on a genetic analysis, seems plausible — but caution that the researchers’ work is yet to be published in full. “This is an extremely interesting observation. Although we need to see more details, it does make sense as there are now some other data emerging that pangolins carry viruses that are closely related to 2019-nCoV,” says Edward Holmes, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Sydney, Australia...

Pangolins are protected animals, but illegal trafficking is widespread, and some species are critically endangered. They are sold, controversially, for their meat and scales, and for use in traditional Chinese medicine, in which parts of the animal are used to treat ailments such as skin diseases, menstrual disorders and arthritis. Chinese law states that people selling pangolins can be punished by 10 years or more in prison.[1]


  1. Did pangolins spread the China coronavirus to people?, Nature Research, 07 FEBRUARY 2020