Black-bellied pangolin (Manis tetradactyla)
The remarkable black-bellied pangolin is the smallest and most arboreal pangolin species. Like other pangolins, most of this species’ head, body and tail are covered with horny, overlapping scales. The only regions that do not possess this extensive armouring are the sides of the face and snout, the inner surfaces of the limbs, and the throat and belly. Superbly adapted for climbing, the black-bellied pangolin possesses an extremely long, prehensile tail with a bare patch at the tip, which has a sensory role as well as aiding grip. Incredibly, the tail contains between 46 and 47 vertebrae, a record among mammals, and is strong enough to take the black-bellied pangolin’s entire body weight while dangling from tree branches. The black-bellied pangolin’s head is small and pointed, with the eyes protected by thick eyelids, and although lacking teeth, pangolins possess an extremely long, thin tongue, which can extend to about 25 centimetres and is used to capture food.