Almost every animals today have ancestors from the dinosaur-age. As it turns out, armadillo is no exception. It lived some 5.3 billion to 11,700 years ago and it was called Glyptodon and like one may have expected, this armored beast was no raccoon size. Apparently, it was car-sized, stretching to around 10 feet long and tipping the scales at 1 ton. And that, btw, was from the specimens that were dug up; God knows how long it was capable growing up to.
In contrast, it was way more enormous than present day Amarillo which the biggest is merely the size of a small pig and weighing 119 lbs (54 kilograms). But I guess that was to be expected cos’ after all, it was a dinosaur. Without much restriction, animals of those eras tend to compete in sizes (I am no scientist, but I guess size was ultimately one of the thing that lead to their downfall). While it might menacing in the size department, this prehistoric creature ain’t no T-rex.
According to scientists, it fed mainly on plants, insects, and carrion. So, our ancestors should have no fear of this creature. In fact, it was the opposite; the creature had Homo sapiens to fear because, there were hints of early humans might have hunted these creatures for both the meat and the carcass. Based on the remains found, researchers concluded that the shell could have used as a makeshift shelter for early humans that roam the land.
This granddaddy of armadillo lived mainly on present-day North and South America. Like the modern day armadillo, it would curl up like a ball when met with danger and it was also, obviously, well protected – thanks the armored back that consisted of over 1,000 bony plates that kind of made it look like a turtle’s shell, unlike the banded armored like modern varieties.
Also, it did not appeared to have armored head and neck like today’s armadillo, but it did have an additional defense mechanism and that was the tail which was armored and club-like, with some even spotting blunt spikes, that could dealt quiet a dead blow to any antagonizing creatures. In theory, glyptodon appeared to had great survivability, but if so, how did went extinct?
Well, sadly, it had an Achilles’ heel which was its underbelly. If it failed to curl up and also happened to be overturned, or flipped to the side, it was pretty much game over for the prehistoric armadillo. This Achilles’ heel combined with humans hunting it, resulted in its extinction sometime after the last Ice Age. Intriguing.