Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why does a pangolin look like an armadillo?
Sometimes animals that live in the same way and eat much the same food evolve to look like each other, even though they are not closely related. The armadillo's main diet is ants and termites, which it digs out of the ground with powerful claws. It has a long snout for nosing around in the ground after insects, and thick plates of bone protecting its skin from the ants painful stings. This bony armour also gives it protection from predators out on the open plains where the ant nests are found. Armadillos live only in the Americas, but in Africa there are animals called pangolins that look remarkable similar. They, too, live out on the plains and feed mainly on termites and ants. The pangolins and armadillos are not related, but because they live the same kind of life, they have evolved along similar lines. This is called convergent evolution.

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