translating biophilia into a love of life

Posts Tagged ‘behavior

Happy (belated) world pangolin day!

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World pangolin day was 21 February 2015.  I dedicate this post to all pangolins and those who love, protect, and conserve them.

Adorable pangolin friend

What IS a pangolin, you might ask?

Also known as a “scaly anteater”, our buddy the pangolin is a burrowing mammal, with the singular characteristic of being covered in large overlapping scales.

While I typically favor carnivores with dangerous dentition, I adore this creature even though pangolins have no teeth.   Pangolins are carnivorous in that they eat ants, using their enormous front claws to dig into ant colonies, and incredibly long, sticky tongue to retrieve ants from within their labyrinthine underground tunnels.

Check out this video to see a pangolin (literally) digging into it’s dinner:

Sadly, the pangolin is the most trafficked mammal in the world.  While pangolins are adapted to fend off ant attacks with their scaly plates and ability to close off their ears and eyes to invasion, when they encounter a predator their defense is to roll up into a ball.  In fact, the name pangolin comes from the Malay word pengguling, meaning “something that rolls up”.

The pangolin ball

The pangolin defense posture. A ball.

While this defense works well against predators like lions, it does not protect pangolins from poachers.  Poachers easily capture pangolins, which are used in traditional medicine and as fashion accessories, or illegally traded internationally for their scales, skins, and meat.

dead pangolins

Too many dead pangolins.

You can help pangolins by (1) supporting conservation efforts that protect these delightful creatures, and (2) avoiding pangolin products.

Baby pangolins actually ride on their mothers this way.  It's true.

Baby pangolins actually ride on their mothers this way. It’s true.

Here is a list of organizations with pangolin conservation programs:


Written by morethangray

February 23, 2015 at 8:03 pm

Whale song

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Miette: One?  You asleep?  What did you do before?
One: One sailor.  Harpooned whales.  One night…One hear whales singing.  After…always the target I miss. One loses job.
From The City of Lost Children

Whale song has a reputation for being hauntingly beautiful.  The first time I heard it was likely 20+ years ago, on a free record of whale tunes that came inside an issue of National Geographic.  The record was thin and square-shaped (as opposed to the typical round 45″), which made the recording both acoustically and visually impressive.

As I no longer have the National Geographic record — or my Fisher Price record player, for that matter — I’ve needed to move on.  Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to find whale song audio files.

"Humpback Whale Calf and Remora" by Sue Flood

Written by morethangray

March 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm

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