Scales are a common anatomical structure that can be found in butterflies, fish, reptiles, birds and even mammals. The product of convergent evolution, scales have evolved many times across many different animal groups. In the case of butterflies, whose scientific name “lepidoptera" literally means scaly (lepid-) wings (-pteron), the scales are modified setae (hair-like projections) that have become broad and flattened. In contrast, lizard scales are derived from epidermal tissue (skin) that surround bony deposits known as osteoderms. While reptilian bodies are typically covered by scales of varied shapes and sizes, bird scales are restricted to the feet and legs. Among the mammals, pangolins are protected by an armor of scales derived from keratin which is the same fibrous protein from which nails, hair and horns are constructed.
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