|A young lion tries to flip over an African crested p
porcupine in order
to kill it in South Africa, where
porcupines are the principal diet of
Armored on the Inside
Some animals have spikes that come into play only when
they are attacked. Among these unusual animals is a mammal
called the potto.
The potto is a slow-moving, tree-dwelling African animal.
three bones in its neck end in thick spines that stick
up through the skin. the spines usually are buried in its
thick fur. however, if threatened, a potto curls up so that
its neck bends and the spines stick up. some scientists
have recently found that the spines are sensitive to touch
and that pottos sometimes rub necks with each other.
they are researching to see if pottos use their spines to
communicate with one another.
A salamander called the sharp-ribbed newt also has
hidden spines. its spines are the ends of its ribs. if attacked,
the newt pushes its ribs so that they form rows of
bumps on its back. there are poison glands on the bumps.
the sharp rib tips may also poke out of the newt’s skin.
The hero shrew of west Africa does not show its strength;
its armor is completely hidden inside. this armor is its oneof-
a-kind backbone. each bone in its spine has ridges on it
and fits snugly into the bones on either side of it. the spine
is also very flexible, and the ribs attached to it are very thick.
A person weighing 160 pounds ( 2 kilograms) can stand on
the shrew’s back without harming it. why the shrew’s back is
so strong is still a mystery, though its strength may certainly
stop some predators’ jaws from crushing it.