Pangolin: Breaking Patterns

One of my favorite creatures in the world is the pangolin.  Pangolin are incredibly designed creatures native to Africa and Asia. Because they are rarely seen in zoos, they are somewhat unknown. Valued in oriental medicine for their supposed medicinal value, pangolins have been hunted heavily and are now some of the rarer species of animals in the world. This article will give you a basic overview of pangolins and where they fit into the origins debate.

Worldwide there are eight species of pangolin. Four are found in Asia, four in Africa.  The pangolin is the only mammal in the world covered in scales. It does have some hair, and some species have tiny stiff hairs sprouting between the scales.  The scales are made of the same material as the hair, the protein keratin.  Pangolins are sexually dimorphic, with males often weighing up to 90% more than their female counterparts, depending on the species. A Pangolin is a solitary creature, usually nocturnal, with poor vision.  They are equipped with heavy-duty claws which they use to dig extensive burrows, in which some species live. Other species live an arboreal lifestyle, using their prehensile tails to move through the trees.

Pangolins dine on ants and termites.  Lacking teeth, or a mouth wide enough to do more than inhale its prey, the pangolin relies on a tongue that can be longer than its body. This tongue has a specialized glue-like substance on it. The pangolin inserts its tongue into an ant hill or termite mound. Any ants or termites unfortunate enough to make contact with the tongue are stuck to it and drawn into the pangolins mouth. A pangolin can eat over seven ounces of insects a day. Since the pangolin has no teeth, it relies heavily on stones in its stomach to grind the unfortunate ants and termites it eats.  The pangolin eats these stones in order to provide this grinding action.

Pangolins reproduce around midyear, usually in the late summer or early fall.  Males will fight one another with their tails for the right to mate with a female. Depending on the species, females will give birth to one to three young, which are born with soft white scales, rather than the hard ones adults have.  When the mother moves around, the young pangolin clings to her tail, riding along as she moves.  It takes two years for the young to be self-sustaining, though they are weaned onto insects around three months.

The pangolin is distinguished by its scales, which are phenomenally tough. When curled into a ball, even the meanest of the big cats, lions, tigers, and leopards, are unable to harm them. The pangolins scales are too tough even for these carnivores teeth. Since they are born with soft scales, baby pangolins are vulnerable. However, a mother pangolin will roll herself around her baby when threatened, effectively protecting it from any predators.  The pangolin also has the ability to put out a foul odor when threatened, much in the same way that a skunk would, though the pangolin does not spray the predator with the odor.

With all the background out of the way, the pangolin stands out in the origins debate for a number of reasons. The first is their tongue. It is attached to the chest cavity rather than the back of the mouth. The tongue is coated with a sticky saliva which causes ants or other insect prey to be trapped on it.  This raises two problems for the evolutionist. The first is, by what mechanism did this evolve? Anteaters and woodpeckers use a similar mechanism but are evolutionarily unrelated so it had to evolve separately on at least two other occasions.  Even if it had so evolved, why do pangolin tongues not stick to the inside of their mouths? What mindless chance process produced a tongue that was sticky, but was somehow smart enough to realize that it would be unusable stuck to the roof of its mouth?  A second issue is the stones in the stomach. Is it merely a coincidence that the pangolin, having no way to chew its food, swallows stone and sand to aid its digestion? How does a pangolin know to do that? How does a little three and a half pound pangolin, the smallest variant, know to eat stones and sand?

Pangolins are designed to dig. They have strong chest muscles and hefty sharp claws. As they dig out insect nests, the next issue for the evolutionist becomes obvious.  How did a creature such a pangolin evolve all the parts it needs to be the devastating insectivore that it is? To do what a pangolin does requires a specialized set of tools. We know this because we see the same set of tools on anteaters which live a similar lifestyle. The pangolin comes with all the needed equipment. It has strong digging muscles, sharp claws, a sticky tongue and an incredibly strong sense of smell.  All four of those are needed for the pangolin to survive. Suppose the sense of smell was weak. The pangolin would be unable to find the anthill. Supposing the strong digging muscles were removed, the pangolin could not access its prey. All the pieces had to be in place simultaneously in order for a pangolin to hunt successfully. They could not have evolved gradually over long periods of time.

A final problem with the evolutionists’ theory is the tough scaly armor. Supposing the pangolin had evolved originally without the armor. With no natural defenses, it would have been unfit to survive and fallen easy prey to any predator.  Evolution would have weeded it out. Therefore the armor must have evolved at the same time as the pangolin itself.  This begs the question of where a mammal got scales? Evolutionists will undoubtedly point to a potential reptilian ancestor, but why were the scales retained? No other reptilian characteristics are present on the pangolin.  Further, no reptile comes equipped with the same type of insectivorous equipment as the pangolin. Further, if the armor had to evolve at the same time as the pangolin itself, it must also have evolved simultaneously with the feeding mechanism of the pangolin, else the first pangolin would have starved.

Creationists have no problem with the pangolin.  It is clearly designed to hunt and eat colonial insects, though other insects are fair game.  In the Garden of Eden, pangolin could easily have eaten the core of a pineapple or coconut with its tearing feet and long tongue. Regardless of this, the pangolin is evidence of a Designer, not a blind random process.


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