PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Pangolin scales, close-up. These scales, composed of horny keratin, evolved to protect these animals from attack by predators. Pangolins (also called scaly anteaters) face a critical threat in the massive illegal trade in their scales for use in traditional Asian and Chinese medicine. Pangolin scales are now being smuggled from as far away as Africa (these scales are from Smutsia temminckii) to meet a huge demand that sees pangolin scales fetching high prices. There is no proof or likelihood that pangolin scales offer any treatment or cure for the range of ills it is used to treat. The threat to pangolins, though less high profile, is similar to that faced by rhinos for their horns.
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