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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week: Week Forty-Nine

By Naomi Asantewa-Sechereh, on 17 September 2012

Scary MonkeyEmma is away this week, and in her absence I have volunteered to write Specimen of the Week as the now not-so-very-new newbie (I started two months ago…). The specimen I have chosen was brought to my attention when a visitor came into the Museum to make an adoption. After much deliberation they chose the said specimen. The words ‘pink’ and ‘fairy’ make up part of its common name, which I feel is enough justification on its own. Did I mention it’s pink? And it has a furry belly, so what’s not to like?


This week’s Specimen of the Week is…


**!!The Pink Fairy Armadillo!!**


Pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) at the Grant Museum. LDUCZ-Z1537

Pink fairy armadillo
(Chlamyphorus truncatus) at
the Grant Museum
of Zoology. LDUCZ-Z1537


2) In Spanish, armadillo means ‘little armored one’ which refers to the leathery shell of armour that covers the armadillo – called a carapace. Armadillos are the only living mammals to wear such shells. The pink fairy armadillo’s carapace is pale pink in colour and is anchored to a bone above the eye and by a narrow ridge of flesh along its spine. This the only species of armadillo in which the dorsal carapace is almost completely separate from the body. Its legs, the underside of its body and under the carapace are covered with soft, fine white hairs.

3) If threatened, the pink fairy armadillo can completely bury itself within seconds. Their strong front claws allow them to dig through its sandy environment at rapid rates. With their large front claws and their streamlined body, they can move through the sand as if they were swimming through water. Their carapace forms a shield around its head protecting it from abrasion from the sand, which is helpful as the pink fairy armadillo spends a lot of its time underground.

4) Not one to travel far for a meal, the pink fairy armadillo tactically places its burrows in areas besides the colonies of its favourite food source – ants! The ant colonies provide a constant food source for the armadillo, who from time to time may also indulge on other invertebrates such as worms and snails, plus a number of plants and root types. They’re not so fussy about their food source, but the pink fairy armadillo is extremely picky about its burrow, and will leave if it becomes moistened by rainfall.

5) The pink fairy armadillo is a solitary animal, preferring its own company when underground and only coming above ground to feed at night. But its desire to remain solitary is chucked out the window when it comes to mating, with the pink fairy armadillo believed to partake in polygamy.


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