The Rare Pink Fairy Armadillo Found In Argentina Is The World’s Smallest Armadillo And Can Fit In The Palm Of Your Hand, Measuring Just Six Inches Long

Galyna Andrushko - - illustrative purposes only

When you think of an armadillo, you probably imagine a big, brown animal with tough, leathery skin and a distinctive armored shell covering its body. They almost resemble miniature tanks that can bulldoze through whatever is in their path.

So, it might come as a surprise to learn that an armadillo that can fit into the palm of your hand exists.

The world’s smallest armadillo looks like it came straight out of a storybook about a magical land filled with mystical creatures. However, the pink fairy armadillo was not conjured up by imagination. It is totally real, albeit very rare. Out of all the 20 armadillo species, it is the tiniest one, measuring a mere six inches long.

The animal has a vibrant pink hue, sprouts of silky-white fur, and black eyes. It is found only in Argentina, beneath the sands of a sunbaked, scrubby land that stretches from the Andes to Buenos Aires. Since the armadillo likes to spend most of its time underground, it has managed to avoid the clutches of scientists for centuries.

Recently, researchers discovered that the pink fairy armadillo possesses a trait that has never before been seen in any other mammal. According to Cecilia Krmpotic, the lead author of a new study published in the Journal of Zoology, pink fairies have a double layer of skin.

“The outermost layer, housing cornified scales [in which dead tissue forms a thickened, protective layer] and osteoderms, acts as a mantle or covering over the inner layer, which displays an abundant and fine white fur. This double skin is a unique feature among mammals,” she told Live Science.

The strange characteristic provides pink fairies with protection when burrowing underground while also giving them the flexibility to weave through narrow spaces. It is thought that the armadillos developed this unique adaptation when the environment shifted from grasslands to deserts between 32 and 17 million years ago. They had to evolve to survive in the new subterranean conditions.

Mariella Superina, an armadillo expert originally from Switzerland, has been studying armadillos in western Argentina for over 25 years. She is one of the lucky few who have encountered the tiny pink critters during rescue work. Most of the pink fairy armadillos she has rescued were juvenile males on roads or in the middle of villages in February or March.

This is the time of year when the young start to venture away from their mothers. They also appear aboveground during excessive rainfall when their burrows are flooded, which is rare for the region.

Galyna Andrushko – – illustrative purposes only

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