Not Your Texas Style Amradillo

Here’s an Internet bizarrity that you can believe in: the pink fairy armadillo.

by Susan Milius

It’s a real animal, the smallest armadillo species in the world. At about 100 grams, it would fit in your hands. It’s covered with “very fine, silky white hair,” says Mariella Superina of the CONICET research center in Mendoza, Argentina. And its hard outer covering, rich in blood vessels, can blush pink.

Full details of Chlamyphorus truncatus biology, though, might as well be a fairy tale. It’s known only from a dry, sandy swath of Argentina and spends most of its time underground. The pink fairy is so hard to spot that Superina and her colleagues are struggling to determine whether it’s endangered or not. She heads an international group of specialists now trying to assess the risk of extinction for the world’s 21 known armadillo species, plus their close relatives, the sloths and anteaters.

In 10 years of field work, she has never caught sight of the pink species in the wild. She has seen tracks made by digging claws and the diamond-shaped tip of its tail. After several meters, the tracks just stop where, she presumes, the armadillo disappeared underground. Locals, she says, “can track down any animal — except the pink fairy armadillo.”…

(read more: Science News)

photos: Nicholas Smythe/Getty Images; Paul Vogt; M. Superina

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