Fun Glyptodon Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Oct 20, 2022 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Sep 30, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Read more fun Glyptodon facts here.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

Glyptodon is an extinct genus consisting of large mammals with a heavily armored shell within the Glyptodontinae (glyptodontines or glyptodonts) subfamily and Chlamyphoridae family. The Glyptodon name combines the Greek terms for 'sculptured,' and 'tooth,' meaning 'carved or grooved tooth.'

The species of this genus lived in the Pleistocene and Pliocene epoch from 2.5 million-10,000 years ago. These are relatives of modern-day armadillos.

It is said that Darwin first found the fossils of this subfamily, however, the first mention of this genus was in 1923 in Europe in the first edition of 'Ossemen's Fossiles' by Cuvier. After a lot of decision-making, Sir Woodbine Parish originally coined the name.

There are eight species named within this genus.

The length of Glyptodon was around 11 ft (3.3 in) and had a height of around 4.9 ft (1.5 m). The extinct Glyptodontinae subfamily consists of several genera, and the species of this subfamily became extinct by the end of the last ice age.

Several species of this family are still around to this day and the species are mostly the related modern armadillos. The only extinct subfamily with this family is Glyptodontinae.

If you enjoyed reading these cool Glyptodon facts, then make sure to check out these fun facts about the Caviramus and Brachytrachelopan on Kidadl.

Glyptodon Interesting Facts

Was the Glyptodon a dinosaur?

No, Glyptodon was not a dinosaur, it was a ground mammal with an armored shell.

How do you pronounce 'Glyptodon'?

The pronunciation of Glyptodon is 'glip-toe-don.'

What type of prehistoric animal was a Glyptodon?

Glyptodon (grooved or carved tooth) is an extinct xenarthrans genus within the Cingulata order and Phylum Chordata. It is believed that Glyptodon members would have been a part of intraspecific fighting.

Since the Glyptodon tail was flexible with the thick ring of bones (or bony plates), zoologists believed it was used as a weapon during a fight. The evidence from the Glyptodon skeleton showed that the tail was primarily used to attack the same kind, but the tail could have been used against predators.

There was damage on the carapace surface of fossils of Glyptodon reticulatus. A study on these remains showed that the tails were capable of breaking the carapace.

The fight among these species might have been for mates or territories similar to the male-to-male disputes with the antlers in present-day deers. The members of this group are relatives of the modern armadillo species.

In which geological period did the Glyptodon live?

These giant animals lived between the Pleistocene (Uquian-Lujanian) and Pliocene epoch from 2.5 million-10,000 years ago.

When did the Glyptodon become extinct?

Glyptodon extinction occurred due to the first humans of South America hunting these species and became extinct around 11,000 years ago around the last ice age. The shells acted as makeshift shelters to early humans in the same range as these species.

Also, during inclement weather and cold snow or rain, humans (hunters) might have used the shells of dead animals as large shelters.

Archeological sites like La Moderna and Campo Laborde in Argentine Pampas indicate that the related Doedicurus and one other glyptodont existed among humans until the Early Holocene. This proves that both anthropogenic causes and climate change caused this Pleistocene extinction.

Where did a Glyptodon live?

This prehistoric giant occupied a range across South America. The discovery of these glyptodonts remains was made across Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

G. clavipes species had the largest range compared to other Glyptodon species. G. clavipes mammals occupied southeast, north, and northeast Brazil whereas the discovery of G. reticulactus' remains was made only in southern Brazil. There is only a little understanding of the taxonomy and morphology of these species, so the range of habitat is not identified.

During the migrations of the Great American Exchange after the South and North America connected, these species moved to Central America until Guatemala. The related Glyptotherium genus reached the modern United States' southern range around 2.5 million years ago.

What was a Glyptodon's habitat?

Glyptodon habitat spreads across sub-forested, forested areas to humid and warm habitats, and grasslands.

Who did a Glyptodon live with?

The social behaviors of these species from South America are not yet clear. However, they might have lived with their own kind or on their own. Their relative armadillo species live on their own.

How long did a Glyptodon live?

The maximum or average life expectancy of these species of South America is not known.

How did they reproduce?

As this xenarthrans group is a relative of the armadillo, this species might have given birth to live young ones. The breeding process and parental care of these South American species are not known though.

Glyptodon Fun Facts

What did a Glyptodon look like?

Glyptodon species had teeth similar to armadillos but with deep groves.

Glyptodons resembled turtles and ankylosaur groups of dinosaurs, superficially. The reason behind this was the armor covering them from head to tail just like the turtle's shell.

These mammals were also similar to the modern armadillos. The deep lower jaws of these glyptodonts provided support to their huge chewing muscles, as they ate fibrous and coarse plants.

They had teeth similar to those of the armadillo species but had deep groves on the sides. These glyptodonts had cylindrically posterior teeth and compressed anterior teeth.

The osteoderms of the carapace were conical and had rounded points whereas on the tail it was only conical. It was later confirmed in the 2000s that osteoderms were present on their underside, hind legs, and face.

This new trait coincided with the migration of predators of North America to South America, so, scientists hypothesized that this evolution was the defensive mechanism.

The protective shell had around 98 in (2.5 m) thick bony plates and these were called osteoderms. Each type of these Glyptodons had a distinct shell type and osteoderm pattern.

As they could not retrieve the head into the armor, there was a bony cap for protection on their skull. Their tail dermal structured bony rings, which made the appendix mobile, strong, and flexible.

There were 13 vertebrae in succession. The vision of these species like other xenarthrans would have been used only in the dark.

How many bones did a Glyptodon have?

The number of bones in the Glyptodon skeleton is not known. The fossil of these animals that were recovered is Glyptodon skull, teeth, shells, tail, and other vertebrae. In the Hungarian Natural History Museum, there is a Glyptodon carapace pr shell on display.

How did they communicate?

The mode of communication of this Glyptodon animal is not known. However, they may have used their tail to fight, vision in the dark, and vocals to communicate.

How big was a Glyptodon?

Glyptodon (Richard Owen, 1839) was 11 ft (3.3 in) in length and 4.9 ft (1.5 m) in height. It was said that the Glyptodon was about the same size as a Volkswagen Beetle!

How fast could a Glyptodon move?

The information on the flying speed of these anurognathids is not available. These animals were huge so probably not fast runners.

How much did a Glyptodon weigh?

It was said that the weight of these mammals was roughly the same as a Volkswagen Beetle. However, these species weighed around 4,400 lb (2000 kg), way more than the modern armadillo species.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There was no specific name given to either female or male of this giant Glyptodon.

What would you call a baby Glyptodon?

There was no specific name given to these baby anurognathids.

What did they eat?

The Glyptodon's diet was herbivorous. The diet primarily included plants, dicotyledonous trees, and monocotyledonous grasses. They mostly foraged on the ground closer to lakes and rivers.

How aggressive were they?

The extent of their aggressive behavior has not yet been studied.

Did you know...

There is little evidence of predation by humans hunting these animals, that is limited to North American Pliocene Glyptotherium skull and some more in South America showing the signs of human consumption. Some predators were saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, terror birds, and giant short-faced bears.

Some members of the Xenarthra are species of tree sloth, armadillo, anteater, and pampatheres.

What does the Glyptodon fossil look like?

The fossil, at the time of its discovery, was believed to have belonged to a giant ground sloth, Megatherium. The carapace plates were later found. However, this discovery made the professors confirm that these remains were of Megatherium as other fossilized bones of this giant ground sloth were found in identical conditions.

What was the Glyptodon's weakness?

Even though they were huge with armored shells, these relatives of armadillo species could not withdraw their heads into their shells, unlike turtles.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Mylodon facts and Jeholornis facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Glyptodon coloring pages.

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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