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Pink armadillos ain’t your Texas critters

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11:26am, November 7, 2013

DIGGING DIRT  Pink fairy armadillos have claws so specialized for digging that they struggle to walk on hard surfaces.

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

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.

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