Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are unique mammals that have captured the hearts and minds of animal enthusiasts worldwide. These fascinating creatures are critically endangered and boast a distinctive and unique way of walking.
One question is whether these animals can walk on their hind legs. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore pangolins’ impressive locomotive capabilities, bipedal walking abilities, characteristic movements, and the evolutionary advantages of their distinctive way of traversing the earth.
Can pangolins walk on their hind legs?
Pangolins are some of the most unique animals in the world, and many people are fascinated by them – including how they walk.
Contrary to what many believe, pangolins do not walk on their hind legs as humans do.
Instead, they stroll along or gallop with their front feet carrying most of their weight while their back feet trail behind them.
While this gait is familiar among armadillos and anteaters, pangolins use it even more than other species due to their powerful front claws, which give them better balance and help them burrow for food.
All in all, pangolins have a truly unique method of getting around.
Pangolins possess an extraordinary method of walking, especially for mammals.
1) There are eight species of pangolins, but one trait shared among them is their ability to walk on their hind legs.
When walking on four legs, these creatures use their semi-plantigrade stance, with their front feet bent at the wrists, giving an appearance similar to a clenched fist.
This unusual position supports their powerful upper limbs, which they use for digging and climbing. But even more impressive is their capability to balance and walk on just their hind legs.
2) When adopting their bipedal stance, pangolins stand upright, using their prehensile tails for balance and support.
In this position, their small front limbs rest against their chest, similar to the stance of a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Their tails touch the ground to assist in maintaining stability while walking. However, it is crucial to note that not all pangolin species have the same proficiency in bipedal walking.
While some species, like the Temminck’s ground pangolin, demonstrate a more impressive ability to walk on two legs, others, like the arboreal pangolins, are more comfortable in a quadrupedal stance.
3)The ability to walk on hind legs is an interesting oddity of the pangolin and serves essential survival functions.
Bipedal walking allows them to cover greater distances using fewer steps, preserving their energy. This manner of walking also enables pangolins to be more inconspicuous and stealthy, helping them avoid detection by predators.
Their bipedal ability is especially crucial when they travel along thin, winding paths, where walking on all fours may not be possible.
Additionally, walking on hind legs while keeping their front limbs free helps them avoid damaging their delicate front claws, primarily for digging and breaking open termite mounds and ant nests.
4)Bipedal walking is also essential for pangolins during their defensive stance.
When threatened, these mammals typically curl into a tight ball, using their hard, overlapping scales to protect their softer, vulnerable parts.
Often, a pangolin will stand on its hind legs while performing this defensive move, providing extra protection while potentially “standing up” to the predator, showcasing its size and strength.
5)The walking mechanism of pangolins could offer insights into the evolution of bipedal locomotion in mammals.
Although these creatures are not direct ancestors of humans, their ability to walk and function efficiently using just their hind limbs suggests that the evolutionary adaptation of bipedal movement has occurred in more than one group of mammals.
Studying pangolins could provide researchers with a valuable perspective on how and why certain animals have adopted this unique method of locomotion.
Pangolins are genuinely remarkable creatures, with their unique method of locomotion contributing to their individuality. For example, these incredible mammals can walk on their hind legs and use their prehensile tails for balance, an essential skill that serves various critical survival aspects.
Whether for energy preservation, stealth, or defense, pangolins have demonstrated their adaptability and efficiency in exploiting the advantages bipedal walking offers.
Understanding the extraordinary walking abilities of these fascinating creatures can provide valuable insights into the evolution of locomotive adaptations in nature and offer an opportunity to appreciate and protect these increasingly threatened mammals.