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Tuesday Tetrapod: Priodontes maximus

Posted by tigerhawkvok on February 16, 2010 17:46 in tuesday tetrapod

Well, in this belated TT, let's throw another xenarthran into the fray, with Priodontes maximus, or the Giant Armadillo:

P. maximus

P. maximus. Image (C) Getty Images/Discovery Channel and not locally hosted.

All extant armadillos, including P. maximus, are members of Dasypodidae, which lie on a different branch than the extinct, massive, glyptodonts. P. maximus isn't quite as weird as other armadillos (which, among other things, give birth to four monozygotic young - ie, indentical quadruplets). P. maximus is fairly large, weighing about 30 kg and averaging 89 cm in length. While primarily formicivorous, they will sometimes also eat small rodents.

The armor on dasypodids are keratinized dermal scutes, with varying degrees of flexibility across the clade. Only the genus Tolypeutes has the capacity to actually role into a ball for defense, otherwise just rely on their armor for protection in conjuction with flight.

Native to South America (particularly north-central SA), Priodontes maximus is rated IUCN "Vulnerable" with a decreasing population. Population decline has been estimated at >= 30% in the past 24 years, exacerbating its naturally sparse population.

In an odd aside, IE can't get a break — if you're viewing the IUCN site in IE8, it may not display properly.

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Tuesday Tetrapod: Priodontes maximus | The Dichotomous Trekkie 2.0

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