Brief Summary

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The family Manidae is the sole family in the mammal order Pholidota. Included in this family is a single genus, Manis, which includes eight species, all of which are known as pangolins (or scaly anteaters) and live in Africa and Asia. The four African species are Manis (Uromanis) tetradactyla, M. (Phataginus) tricuspis,M. (Smutsia) gigantea, and M. (Smutsia) temmincki. The four Asian species are M. (Manis) crassicaudata, M. (Manis) pentadactyla, M. (Paramanis) culionensis, and M. (Paramanis) javanica. The indicated subgenera have sometimes been treated as distinct genera and M. culionensis, from the Philippines, has sometimes been treated as a synonym ofM. javanica.

Pangolins have long, muscular tails (head and body length ranges from around 300 to 880 mm; tail length from 350 to 880 mm). All pangolins use their tails as powerful weapons to defend themselves and some pangolins may sometimes walk on just the hind legs, using the heavy tail as a brace. The tail and every outer surface of a pangolin is protected by horny scales, but the face, throat, belly, and inner limbs are naked or covered with ordinary mammalian hair. Three or four hairs are present at the base of each scale in the Asian species, but these hairs are not present in the African pangolins. "Pangolin" is a Malay name meaning "one that rolls up", which describes the defensive strategy employed by all pangolins of curling up into a tight ball, converting themselves into spheres of overlapping armor (one published report described a pangolin [M. javanica] curling itself into a ball and rolling rapidly down a slope!). The tubular skull provides extra protection as a result of its being made of thick, dense bone. All pangolins can travel on the ground, but arboreal species feed and sleep in rainforest trees. The much heavier terrestrial forms have dense massive scales reflecting their greater exposure to more formidable predators. Arboreal pangolins may weigh as little as 2 kg, whereas the terrestrial Giant Pangolin (S. gigantea)can exceed 30 kg.

Pangolin heads are relatively small, consisting largely of a nose with a small mouth. Pangolins have no teeth and cannot chew. All pangolins feed almost exclusively on termites and ants, which are captured with the sticky tonguethen swallowed and ground up with tiny pebbles or sand in the hardened gizzard-like stomach. The worm-like tongue is as long as the head and body and when not extended folds back into a throat pocket that visibly bulges and empties as the animal feeds. The tongue is very sticky and associated with enormous salivary glands, requiring frequent drinking. The remarkable structure and attachment of the tongue allow it to travel down a hole in a termite mound, then whip back into the mouth covered in termites. The nostrils and ear openings can be closed and thick lids protect the eyes. All species have sharp claws on their forefeet, which they use to open termite mounds and to rip open hollow branches and trunks (they are reportedly also used by fighting males and possibly in defense). The hind limbs of pangolin species with different body sizes and habits are far more divergent than the forelimbs.

Despite their superficial resembance to the armadillos of the New World, pangolins and armadillos are not closely related. Their resemblance is due to parallel adaptations rather than recent common ancestry of the two groups.

In Africa, the arboreal Long-tailed Pangolin (M. tetradactyla) and Tree Pangolin (M. tricuspis) as well as the Giant Pangolin (M. gigantea) are closely tied to water; the Ground Pangolin (M. temmincki) is more arid-adapted, but only penetrates dry areason the margins of its range in the Kalahari, Sudanic, and Somali arid regions.

Pangolins inhabit forests andthick bush as well as open or savannah country. Most species are nocturnal, but some are diurnal. Pangolins are mostly silent, although they may make hissing or puffing sounds. Male pangolins apparently defend scent-marked territories that enclose the home ranges of several females. Ground burrows are around 15 to 20 cm in diameter with a depth of several metersand terminating in a circular chamber as much as 2 m in circumference. Burrow entrances are generally closed with dirt when occupied. Giant Pangolin burrows may be as much as 5 m deep and 40 m long.

Young are born in burrows or arboreal hollows and subsequently are transported on their mother's tail. or back. African pangolins typically have just a single offspring at a time, but Asian species may have up to three.

Pangolin populations have suffered greatly from hunting for meat, skins, and scales, which are valued in traditional medicine in both Asia and Africa, as well as from habitat loss and possibly from high sensitivity to insecticides.

(Nowak 1991 and references therein; Kingdon 1997)

Leo Shapiro
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Manidae ("spirits") is the only extant family of pangolins from superfamily Manoidea.[5] This family comprises three genera (Manis from subfamily Maninae, Phataginus from subfamily Phatagininae, and Smutsia from subfamily Smutsiinae),[6] as well as extinct Fayum pangolin.[7]

Classification and phylogeny

History of classification

All species of living pangolin had been assigned to the genus Manis until the late 2000s, when research prompted the splitting of extant pangolins into three genera: Manis, Phataginus, and Smutsia.[5][8]



Phylogenetic position of family Manidae within superfamily Manoidea.[5][8][12][13][6][1]


Palaeanodonta Metacheiromys DB152-2.jpg




Pholidota sp. (BC 16’08)








Manidae Maninae Manis (Paramanis)

Manis culionensis

Manis javanica Anatomische Untersuchungen über die Edentaten (1852) Manis javanica.jpg


Manis palaeojavanica


Manis sp. (Scale_H4 & Scale_H8)


Manis lydekkeri

Manis crassicaudata Pangolin Hardwicke (white background).jpg


Manis hungarica

Manis pentadactyla


Manidае sp. (DPC 3972 & DPC 4364)

Smutsiinae Phatagininae Phataginus

Phataginus tetradactyla Schuppentier-drawing.jpg

Phataginus tricuspis Anatomische Untersuchungen über die Edentaten (1852) Phataginus tricuspis.png

Smutsiinae Smutsia

Smutsia gigantea Cambridge Natural History Mammalia Fig 109.jpg

Smutsia olteniensis

Smutsia temminckii Manis temminckii MHNT PHOL 1.jpg

sensu stricto sensu lato sensu stricto
southern Asian clade
northern Asian clade
African clade
(Pholidota sensu lato)


  1. ^ a b c Sean P. Heighton, Rémi Allio, Jérôme Murienne, Jordi Salmona, Hao Meng, Céline Scornavacca, Armanda D. S. Bastos, Flobert Njiokou, Darren W. Pietersen, Marie-Ka Tilak, Shu-Jin Luo, Frédéric Delsuc, Philippe Gaubert (2023.) "Pangolin genomes offer key insights and resources for the world’s most trafficked wild mammals"
  2. ^ J. E. Gray. (1821.) "On the natural arrangement of vertebrose animals." The London Medical Repository Monthly Journal and Review 15:296-310
  3. ^ "The CITES Appendices". Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  4. ^ J. E. Gray. (1825.) "An outline of an attempt at the disposition of Mammalia into Tribes and Families, with a list of genera apparently appertaining to each Tribe." Annals of Philosophy, new series 10:337-344
  5. ^ a b c Gaudin, Timothy (2009). "The Phylogeny of Living and Extinct Pangolins (Mammalia, Pholidota) and Associated Taxa: A Morphology Based Analysis" (PDF). Journal of Mammalian Evolution. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Science+Business Media. 16 (4): 235–305. doi:10.1007/s10914-009-9119-9. S2CID 1773698.
  6. ^ a b Philippe Gaubert, Agostinho Antunes, Hao Meng, Lin Miao, Stéphane Peigné, Fabienne Justy, Flobert Njiokou, Sylvain Dufour, Emmanuel Danquah, Jayanthi Alahakoon, Erik Verheyen, William T Stanley, Stephen J O’Brien, Warren E Johnson, Shu-Jin Luo (2018) "The Complete Phylogeny of Pangolins: Scaling Up Resources for the Molecular Tracing of the Most Trafficked Mammals on Earth" Journal of Heredity, Volume 109, Issue 4, Pages 347–359
  7. ^ Daniel Gebo, D. Tab Rasmussen (1985.) "The Earliest Fossil Pangolin (Pholidota: Manidae) from Africa" Journal of Mammalogy 66(3):538
  8. ^ a b Kondrashov, Peter; Agadjanian, Alexandre K. (2012). "A nearly complete skeleton of Ernanodon (Mammalia, Palaeanodonta) from Mongolia: morphofunctional analysis". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 32 (5): 983–1001. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.694319. ISSN 0272-4634. S2CID 86059673.
  9. ^ Huarong Zhang, Mark P. Miller, Feng Yang, Hon Ki Chan, Philippe Gaubert, Gary Ades, Gunter A. Fischer (2015.) "Molecular tracing of confiscated pangolin scales for conservation and illegal trade monitoring in Southeast Asia", Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 4, Pages 414-422
  10. ^ Jingyang Hu, Christian Roos, Xue Lv, Weimin Kuang, Li Yu (2020.) "Molecular Genetics Supports a Potential Fifth Asian Pangolin Species (Mammalia, Pholidota, Manis)" Zoological Science, 37(6):538-543
  11. ^ Terhune, C. E.; Gaudin, T.; Curran, S.; Petculescu, A. (2021). "The youngest pangolin (Mammalia, Pholidota) from Europe". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 41 (4): e1990075. doi:10.1080/02724634.2021.1990075. S2CID 245394367.
  12. ^ Du Toit, Z.; Grobler, J. P.; Kotzé, A.; Jansen, R.; Brettschneider, H.; Dalton, D. L. (2014). "The complete mitochondrial genome of Temminck's ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii; Smuts, 1832) and phylogenetic position of the Pholidota (Weber, 1904)". Gene. 551 (1): 49–54. doi:10.1016/j.gene.2014.08.040. PMID 25158133.
  13. ^ du Toit, Z.; du Plessis, M.; Dalton, D. L.; Jansen, R.; Paul Grobler, J.; Kotzé, A. (2017). "Mitochondrial genomes of African pangolins and insights into evolutionary patterns and phylogeny of the family Manidae". BMC Genomics. 18 (1): 746. doi:10.1186/s12864-017-4140-5. PMC 5609056. PMID 28934931.

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Manidae: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Manidae ("spirits") is the only extant family of pangolins from superfamily Manoidea. This family comprises three genera (Manis from subfamily Maninae, Phataginus from subfamily Phatagininae, and Smutsia from subfamily Smutsiinae), as well as extinct Fayum pangolin.

Wikipedia authors and editors
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wikipedia EN