Definition of pangolin in English:



  • An African and Asian mammal that has a body covered with horny overlapping scales, a small head with an elongated snout, a long sticky tongue for catching ants and termites, and a tapering tail.

    Family Manidae and order Pholidota: genera Manis (three species in Asia) and Phataginus (four species in Africa)

    Also called scaly anteater
    • ‘In contrast with the Xenarthra, the Old World Pholidota is not trophically diverse and contains only the myrmecophagous pangolins, or scaly anteaters.’
    • ‘In performance, the generic figures appear in groups to represent mainly dogs, pangolins, and antelopes.’
    • ‘In the echidna, anteaters, and pangolins, there are qualitative differences in tongue construction.’
    • ‘An alternative strategy can be seen in anteaters and pangolins: the tongue has lost most of its cranial attachments.’
    • ‘Alternatively they may climb trees in search of tree ants, as do the pangolins or scaly anteaters of the genus Manis.’
    • ‘Like pangolins, aardvarks have a long, protrusile tongue and a gizzard-like stomach.’
    • ‘Anteaters, pangolins, and some armadillos use hook-and-pull digging with the enlarged claw of a single, enlarged manual digit to open termite or ant nests made of hard dirt.’
    • ‘Interpreting the extreme similarity in anteaters and pangolins remains problematic due to lingering disagreement among phylogenetic hypotheses.’
    • ‘The soft stomach is one reason a pangolin has hard scales covering its body.’
    • ‘Beneath, pangolins lack scales but have a sparse coat of fur.’


Late 18th century: from Malay peng-guling, literally ‘roller’ (from its habit of rolling into a ball).