It’s not a pinecone, it’s a pangolin © Jen Guyton/Minden Pictures
Today is World Pangolin Day, an event dedicated to highlighting this unique and rare mammal. Eight different species of pangolins live in Asia and Africa, and all are known for their solitary, nocturnal lives. Those sharp, protective scales are made of keratin, the same stuff as your hair and fingernails. Pangolins also have short legs and long, curved claws that come in handy when digging into an ant mound or a termite nest for food. By curling into a ball, the pangolin protects its belly and the inner parts of its limbs—the only areas of a pangolin’s body not covered by thick scales. But that defense is useless against its biggest threats, which include deforestation and poaching. We’re grateful for the conservation organizations around the world that are working to protect this species and its habitat.