Posts tagged spiny anteater

Western Long-Beaked Echidna - Zaglossus bruijnii
Like all monotremes, the echindas are egg-laying mammals. Unlike their relatives, the platypodes, echidnas lay just a single egg per year, and the female carries the egg in an abdominal egg-pouch, rather than laying multiple eggs in a burrow. The female raises the offspring on her own, so cannot afford to spend her entire time curled around a nest.
The egg incubates 21 days internally, and 10 days externally. When the puggle hatches, it’s nearly as undeveloped as a marsupial infant. For the next 45-55 days, the puggle develops within the pouch, lapping milk from the mother’s milk patches - the modified sebaceous glands that excrete milk aren’t organized into a “nipple” in monotremes, but are simply gathered in patches on the skin.
When the puggle begins to develop spines, the mother deposits it into a nursery burrow, and leaves it there for 4-5 days at a time, while she forages.  Around seven months of age, she comes back less and less frequently, until the puggle (now fully-developed) leaves the burrow on its own. Its food-finding and “hunting” skills are all instinctual, and don’t require teaching by the mother to develop, unlike in most mammals.
Genera Mammalium: Monotremata - Marsupalia. Angel Cabrera, por Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, 1919.

Western Long-Beaked Echidna - Zaglossus bruijnii

Like all monotremes, the echindas are egg-laying mammals. Unlike their relatives, the platypodes, echidnas lay just a single egg per year, and the female carries the egg in an abdominal egg-pouch, rather than laying multiple eggs in a burrow. The female raises the offspring on her own, so cannot afford to spend her entire time curled around a nest.

The egg incubates 21 days internally, and 10 days externally. When the puggle hatches, it’s nearly as undeveloped as a marsupial infant. For the next 45-55 days, the puggle develops within the pouch, lapping milk from the mother’s milk patches - the modified sebaceous glands that excrete milk aren’t organized into a “nipple” in monotremes, but are simply gathered in patches on the skin.

When the puggle begins to develop spines, the mother deposits it into a nursery burrow, and leaves it there for 4-5 days at a time, while she forages.  Around seven months of age, she comes back less and less frequently, until the puggle (now fully-developed) leaves the burrow on its own. Its food-finding and “hunting” skills are all instinctual, and don’t require teaching by the mother to develop, unlike in most mammals.

Genera Mammalium: Monotremata - Marsupalia. Angel Cabrera, por Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, 1919.

Pangolin - Manis spp.
The eight species of the pangolin genus, Manis, have been the object of curiosity for centuries, but it wasn’t until recently that their true position in the tree of life was understood. As insect-eating creatures that are highly specialized to lick ants and termites (and other nesting insects) from deep inside their nests, they were long thought to be closely related to the giant anteater and other Xenartha. It turns out, however, that this is an example of convergent evolution, where unrelated species develop the same specialization to perform the same function.
Thanks to genetic studies, we now know that the pangolins are most closely related to the order Carnivora. They’re the only extant member of their own order (Pholidota), however.
In addition to their highly-specialized tongues, pangolins have both scales and fur, providing a tough armor on their back and a soft under-belly, allowing them the ability to roll into a tight ball. Their skunk-like scent glands also allow them to spray an acrid deterrent in the face of predators prior to rolling up. Thanks to these defenses, the only serious predators that pangolins face are humans.
Unfortunately, two species of the genus are now known to be endangered thanks to traditional medicine and smuggling. Protection efforts and enforcement in most areas of rural Asia are lacking due to many factors, and habitat destruction combined with continued hunting does not lead to a positive outlook for those species affected.
The Book of the Animal Kingdom: Mammals. W. Percival Westell, 1910.

Pangolin - Manis spp.

The eight species of the pangolin genus, Manis, have been the object of curiosity for centuries, but it wasn’t until recently that their true position in the tree of life was understood. As insect-eating creatures that are highly specialized to lick ants and termites (and other nesting insects) from deep inside their nests, they were long thought to be closely related to the giant anteater and other Xenartha. It turns out, however, that this is an example of convergent evolution, where unrelated species develop the same specialization to perform the same function.

Thanks to genetic studies, we now know that the pangolins are most closely related to the order Carnivora. They’re the only extant member of their own order (Pholidota), however.

In addition to their highly-specialized tongues, pangolins have both scales and fur, providing a tough armor on their back and a soft under-belly, allowing them the ability to roll into a tight ball. Their skunk-like scent glands also allow them to spray an acrid deterrent in the face of predators prior to rolling up. Thanks to these defenses, the only serious predators that pangolins face are humans.

Unfortunately, two species of the genus are now known to be endangered thanks to traditional medicine and smuggling. Protection efforts and enforcement in most areas of rural Asia are lacking due to many factors, and habitat destruction combined with continued hunting does not lead to a positive outlook for those species affected.

The Book of the Animal Kingdom: Mammals. W. Percival Westell, 1910.