Newsflash: pangolins walk like T. rex

By Sarah Keartes July 17 2014

It's no secret that we at Earth Touch are a bit pangolin obsessed, so you can imagine our shock when we realised we'd overlooked something so awesome about these armoured animals: African ground pangolins (Manis temmincki) walk like dinosaurs.

Pangolin paws are equipped with three large, curved claws that make perfect tools for demolishing the nests of termites and ants – but aren't so great for walking. The solution is phenomenal. Rather than risking damage to their precious excavators, pangolins switch into rear-wheel drive when they need some extra get-up-and-go. They lollop along on their hindpaws, using their heavy tails like counter-weights. This gait-swapping strategy is known as 'faculative bipedalism'. All hail the mighty pangolin. Full stop.

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Top header image: David Brossard

Sarah Keartes

Sarah Keartes is a science writer with a serious shark addiction. A self-proclaimed Attenborough wannabe and member of 'the nerd herd,' she is likely to be spotted performing dissections and wielding lightsabers ... sometimes simultaneously. Find her on Twitter @sarahkeartes VIEW more from this CONTRIBUTOR

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