Fun Glyptodon Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 15, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
Glyptodon facts for kids are astonishing.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.2 Min

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.

If you found these facts about the glyptodon engaging, check out the giant armadillo and the pink fairy armadillo.

Glyptodon Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Glyptodon?

They are an extinct species of Xenarthra mammals, populating the earth from Pliocene (five million years ago) and Pleistocene (11,000 years ago) epochs.

What class of animal does a Glyptodon belong to?

Glyptodons belonged to the class of large mammals of the subfamily glyptodonts.

How many Glyptodons are there in the world?

Glyptodons have been extinct since the last Ice Age, approximately 10,000 years ago.

Where does a Glyptodon live?

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.

What is a Glyptodon's habitat?

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.

Who do Glyptodons live with?

It is thought that they were solitary animals. The females took care of their young.

How long does a Glyptodon live?

These prehistoric mammals had an average lifespan of 6o years.

How do they reproduce?

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.

What is their conservation status?

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.

Glyptodon Fun Facts

What do Glyptodons look like?

Glyptodon fossil gave us insights about prehistoric times.

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.

How cute are they?

Glyptodon can only be described as eccentric and at times, scary.

How do they communicate?

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.

How big is a Glyptodon?

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.

How fast can a Glyptodon move?

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.

How much does a Glyptodon weigh?

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.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no distinction in the names of the male and females of this species.

What would you call a baby Glyptodon?

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.

What do they eat?

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.

Are they dangerous?

Despite their appearance and our instinct, these mammals were harmless. Although they were well protected from their predators.

Would they make a good pet?

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.

Did you know...

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.

Why did the Glyptodon become extinct?

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.

Discovering the Glyptodon

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.

north america and south america

Get directions
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti Chaudhary picture

Smriti ChaudharyBachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti, a student data scientist, and coder, is pursuing her Bachelor of Technology at K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering. She has achieved top rankings in the International English Olympiad, National Spelling Bee, and PSAT/SAT English Section. She is experienced in content creation and editing for various academic institutions.

Read full bio >