Do not adjust your computer screen: you are, in fact, seeing the adorable miracle of nature that is the pangolin. Since I only learned about these little critters today, I thought I would share my new favorite animal with the group (prior to this, my favorite animal was the tapir, because we both hide in the mud when danger arises.)
"To save our world, Gelfling, you must find the shard...before the three suns meet. If not, Skeksis rule forever."
This adorable pangolin in particular - Roxy - jumpstarted my cold, disillusioned, graduate-student heart. Apparently, Roxy is a Cape Pangolin, and was purchased by someone who did not want her to be killed and eaten. This unnamed pangolin savior handed her over to REST (Rare & Endangered Species Trust), where she bonded and bounded and made every child's dream of a pet dinosaur come true(ish).
Pangolins, which I like to think are a mix between a penguin and a parasol, are mammals with amazing keratin scales covering their skin. With those scales they create an armor that they roll into, protecting their delicate insides from predators (such as lions, yikes) - a far more fashionable and functional use of keratin than my ragged, barely painted fingernails.
"Mom, mommmmmm this beach ball is making me feel foolish!"
Roxy eventually left the preserve, peacing out only after she left her caretakers with a little Baby Roxy, who will likely soon embark on a quest with a platypus, crocodile, and vulture to find other pangolins (parts II and XIII coming soon to a VHS tape near you!). Most pangolin species are endangered, having been hunted nearly to extinction. Not cool, humans. When nature hands you such a boon, it would be nice if you didn't slice it up and attempt to make a shirt out of it.
"Please don't make me into a Lady Gaga headdress."
So let's take a moment to appreciate (visually, and not gastronomically because, again, SERIOUSLY HUMANITY WHY) the pangolin, who does not back down from danger but rather uses a gorgeous, mythical, protective shell to occasionally retreat to, and maybe also spews noxious acid when he panics. As a graduate student, I understand and approve of this protective desire....So go forth, Roxy and Baby Roxy, and spread your unbelievably adorable genes around freely! We will try not to grind you into medicine (ERGHHHHHHH) to cure excessive nervousness and hysterical crying (likely brought upon by the knowledge that sweet baby-dinosaurs have been ground up into the aforementioned medicine.) :/