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Check out Animal Wonders at youtube.com/animalwondersmontana

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines live throughout central and South America, making their lives in the canopy eating fruits, leaves, shoots, and other delicious vegetation. In the wild, they would not talk as much as Kemosabe, because they wouldn't want to call attention to themselves and Kemo is, apparently, more vocal than most captive porcs. But that is definitely our gain because I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.

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Good morning, John.

It’s time for another Bizarre Beasts! This is a project I’m doing over the next twelve months where every month I talk about a weird animal in the world, and this time I get to talk about a weird animal who I know personally!

In a way, this is the animal who inspired this idea, because back many years ago on SciShow, he came to visit me, and I - one, I looked very - I looked younger. And two, I freaked out because, like, if a spaceship in my backyard, and this thing came out, that would seem perfectly normal, aside from there being a spaceship in my backyard. He is a prehensile-tailed porcupine, of which there are many species.

This is a Brazilian porcupine in particular. “I… have not ever seen anything like that.” And even more specifically, this individual is Kemosabe, who lives with my friends Jessi and Augusto here in Montana at Animal Wonders, which is a permanent home and safe haven for exotic animals and native animals that can’t return to the wild. Now, Kemo is a bit of an internet celebrity, partially because of how he looks. There’s just that giant tail and there’s all the spines and that very good, weird marshmallow nose.

But also because of how he sounds. Now, there are cuter animals in the world, but I don’t know if there are cuter-sounding animals. Let’s take a minute, just give it a listen. [COOING SOUNDS FROM KEMOSABE] [

JESSI:] Why don’t you just listen to him? It’s a little bit reminiscent of like a baby cooing. Also, of… [YOSHI NOISES]. Right?

But they also just like sound kind of human, like this is a noise that would be easy for me to make. [IMITATES KEMOSABE COOING SOUNDS]. And hearing like this human sound come out of this very not human-looking organism is, you know, a little bit exhilarating, it’s very cute. It’s also a little unsettling.

And those emotions don’t often come together at the same time. Animal Wonders has a YouTube channel at Animal Wonders Montana that we actually help produce at Complexly. It’s wonderful and so adorable, and you can learn so much!

Go subscribe to it. There’s links all over the place, wherever you might think you’d find one. Now for a weird thing about “porcupines.” That word includes a number of different species.

They include the ones that we have here in the U. S. and also down in Central and South America, like prehensile-tailed porcupines. And then there are the European and African and Asian porcupines, the Old World porcupines, and they are TOTALLY NOT RELATED!

I mean they are, they’re both rodents, but their quills evolved separately. They evolved from a common ancestor that didn’t have quills. They’re only both called “porcupines” because they’re both… spine pigs.

Like pig… pork. Spine… pine. Porkpine… That’s really where their name comes from.

They’re thorn pigs! [SQUEES] But because their quills evolved separately, they actually function completely differently! And it isn’t the only time this has happened. Hedgehogs and echidna also have spines that evolved completely separately because, like, it’s just not a terrible idea to be really unpleasant to bite.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines live in trees. That’s why they have their prehensile tails, and they are very good climbers. Indeed, when a porcupette is born (and yes, that is the proper word for a baby porcupine) they are soft and fuzzy and can’t very well be carried around by their big, thorny mamas, so they have the same muscular tails and functioning claws as their mamas, and they can climb from day one!

I’m very happy to have been able to feature one of my good friends on - in the Bizarre Beasts segment. Everybody go subscribe to Animal Wonders. The work they do is amazing!

They’re such wonderful people, and their videos are very good. And yes, I know that my company does produce them. I’m biased!

Who cares! Thanks everybody for a wonderful Project for Awesome. We had over a thousand more donors than we had in previous years.

We beat all of our previous Project for Awesomes. It was such an amazing time! John, I’ll see you on Tuesday.