Glyptodon, which literally translates to 'the carved tooth' in Greek, is an extinct prehistoric mammalian genus. They once roamed the lands of present-day South America and North America. They had very heavy and intricately patterned shells made up of thousands of bony plates called osteoderms. Similarly, its tail was comprised of a ring of bones. Its features remarkably resemble that of a turtle but they could not withdraw their heads within their shells. Instead, they had a cap on the top of their head. The anatomy suggests they were well protected from predators since they were armored.
They are closely related to modern armadillos. Over the course of evolution, glyptodons are said to have been growing in size until their extinction. Because of this fact, there is much variation noted in the glyptodon shell found. Glyptodon may even have weighed around 4400lb or 2t.
This South American mammal was a herbivore and mainly grazed on vegetation. Scientists identified two main groups based on their feeding habits. Miocene-aged smaller glyptodons were selective feeders, whereas post-Misocene larger glyptodons were bulk-feeders. Because of their food preferences, they preferred areas with water bodies populating tropical and subtropical habitats.
They are an extinct species of Xenarthra mammals, populating the earth from Pliocene (five million years ago) and Pleistocene (11,000 years ago) epochs.
Glyptodons belonged to the class of large mammals of the subfamily glyptodonts.
Glyptodons have been extinct since the last Ice Age, approximately 10,000 years ago.
Glyptodons are speculated to have lived near water resources such as lakes and rivers, in areas with plenty of vegetation to graze on, such as grasslands and sub-forested areas. Mostly, they populated South America and their fossils were found in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.
Originally glyptodons hail from South America, but also moved towards North America, due to the Great American Interchange. They preferred to live in tropical and sub-tropical habitats, while some inhabited warm climates such as forested or sub-forested areas others were acclimatized to cold areas such as large grasslands.
It is thought that they were solitary animals. The females took care of their young.
These prehistoric mammals had an average lifespan of 6o years.
Like most mammals, glyptodons were viviparous, the offspring are born alive after maturing within the mother's womb. The average litter size comprised of one to twelve offsprings.
Glyptodons became extinct almost 10,000 years ago, after the latest Ice Age. It is interesting to note that while glyptodons couldn't survive, their close relative the armadillo, which is considerably smaller, did.
Gylptodons were immense, approximately five feet tall, and armored like a tortoise. Their tail was covered in bony rings, but this was a very flexible appendage and they could swing their tail really well.
Glyptodon can only be described as eccentric and at times, scary.
While it is not sure what sounds they made, often in the media, their sound is portrayed by using sound effects of bulls, bears, or pigs.
Glyptodons grew over the ages. They were almost five ft tall and 11 ft long, their weight ranging from 176-4400 lb. Often compared to armadillos, it could be interesting to note that these mammals were five times larger than an average armadillo, who are only a foot tall.
Given their body structure, with a heavy shell and relatively tiny limbs, they could not have been very fast. Rather paleontologists suggest that their movement must have been slow and burdensome.
As mentioned earlier, a glyptodon would have weighed up to 2 t. With this growth, it is also thought that they evolved their single, rounded sheath. This is in contrast with the layered bands of an armadillo.
There is no distinction in the names of the male and females of this species.
It is uncertain as to what baby glyptodons are called. However, since they are close relatives of the armadillo we can assume that a baby glyptodon, like an armadillo, will be termed as a pup.
These mammals were herbivores and preferred vegetation- both soft and hard. Remains of these prehistoric animals were used to analyze their feeding habits. They had relatively lower energy requirements and were able to survive with fewer calories. Due to their heavy armor, they were forced to forage closer to the ground level, which might have created competition with other mammals, such as ground sloths, for resources.
Despite their appearance and our instinct, these mammals were harmless. Although they were well protected from their predators.
No, with the evolutionary timeframe, glyptodon size kept increasing with its giant tail and huge shell becoming American megafauna. They can definitely not be classified as a good pet unless you were a grassland owner in prehistoric times.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
Glyptodon's fossil was one of the many fossils collected by the famous scientist Darwin during the Beagle Expedition.
Though they are not considered to actually be dinosaurs, however, owing to their shape they can be considered to be armadillos that were dinosaur-shaped.
It is speculated that early humans hunted them for their bones for protection against the inclement weather, contributing to their extinction. Even though this is a controversial claim, given the lack of evidence, it is not entirely false. Early humans hunting patterns show that we were adept at bringing down even mammoths- who were much larger and were often found in packs. It is sure, however, that their extinction coincided with the latest Ice Age some 10, 000 years ago.
They were first discovered in the early 19th century by Richard Owen. It was this biologist who christened them as 'carved tooth' or glyptodon in 1839. Even though the fossils were found much earlier, Owen was the one to realize the similarities among scattered findings and give a holistic understanding of this animal.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the anteater, and the woolly mammoth.
You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our glyptodon coloring pages.