The Mammal Mysteria : Confiscating trafficked pangolins, and finding more than expected.

The pangolin is an absurd animal, a mammal that's dressed up as a reptile with a coat of scales, sharp claws and sticky saliva. 

Wildlife experts often say they are the most trafficked mammals in the world as poachers target pangolins for their meat and their scales, which are used in traditional medicines. 

They are eight species, all under various levels of threat.

OR, sorry, make that nine species. Researchers have determined that scales confiscated in Hong Kong in 2012 and 2013 and in Yunnan, China, in 2015 and 2019 belong to a previously unrecognized pangolin species that has yet to be formally described.

'' The amount of data that was generated on the very limited sampling they have is exceptionally impressive,'' said Matthew Shirley, a conservation biologist at Florida International University who was not a part of the study.

The determine that the scales belonged to a new species, researchers analyzed 17 genomes sampled from the confiscated pangolin scales and compared them with 138 genomes from the eight known species.

They also scrutinized the shape and structure of the scale and found features similar to those of Asian pangolins, suggesting that the mystery animals fall within Manis, the group of the animals found in Asia.

The genomic data confirmed the familial ties, and the new species was named Manis mysteria. [ Darren Incorvala ]


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