Veo

Mystery PANGOLIN of Southeast Asia.

Etymology: Komodo or Manggarai (Austrone-sian) word.

Physical description: Length, 10 feet. Long head. Overlapping scales cover most of the body. Fur grows on the head, throat, belly, inner legs, and tail. Large claws on feet.

Behavior: Stays in the hills during the day but comes to the coast at night. "Hoo-hoo-hoo" cry is heard in the evening. Feeds primarily on termites and ants but also eats stranded shellfish. Sits up vertically when threatened and slashes out with its claws.

Distribution: Rintja, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia.

Possible explanations:

(1) The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is known to exist on Rintja, but the locals readily distinguish the two animals.

(2) A surviving Giant pangolin (Manis palaeojavanica), suggested by Jaroslav Mares. This 7-foot-long, scaly, armored mammal lived in western Java and Borneo during the Pleistocene, about 800,000 years ago. Sources: Pierre Pfeiffer, Bivouacs a Borneo

(Paris: Flammarion, 1963); Jaroslav Mares, Svet tajemnyych zvirat (Prague: Littera Bohemica, 1997); Karl Shuker, "A Scaly Tale from Rintja," Fortean Times, no. 116 (November 1998): 45.

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