Friday, September 19, 2008

Unusual Animals: Pangolin and Tarsier

At first glance, the pangolin looks kind of like an ant-eating dachshund in an aardvark suit. It's a scaly, short-legged mammal that comes out at night to search for bugs. It has no teeth, but its sticky tongue can stretch two feet long. Shy and quiet, a pangolin will curl into a ball when frightened. They are most closely related to the American badger (carnivora).

Thanks to the tarsier's huge round eyes and long toes, this creature resembles a tiny alien. This squirrel-sized primate is notable for its night vision and its ability to turn its head almost all the way around (they eyes are too big to move). It lives entirely in trees; on the ground it can only hop. Tarsiers can catch prey like birds, jumping from tree to tree. Of all the primates, the tarsier has the longest continuous fossil record, indicating that it hasn't changed much in 45 million years.

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