Whitaker, John O., Jr. Department of Biology, Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana.
Last reviewed:March 2016
Show previous versions
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A heavily armored mammal in the order Cingulata. The order Cingulata (formerly Edentata or Xenarthra) comprises the armadillos, which are divided into two extant families: Chlamyphoridae and Dasypodidae. These creatures are characterized by bony dermal plates, which help to protect their bodies. Being mammals, they do have hair, but it is usually sparse and often quite inconspicuous. The anterior and posterior parts of the body are often heavily armored, whereas the midportion of the body is often encircled or partially encircled by rings. These rings are used taxonomically in describing and identifying many of the species of armadillos. The skin of the ventral part of the body is soft. The toes are clawed and are used to burrow and dig for food. The hind limbs always have five toes with claws; the forelimbs may have three, four, or five heavy claws used for digging. The snout is long, and the cylindrical viscous tongue is used in capturing food. The teeth are simple pegs with no roots and no enamel. Most species have about 14 to 18 teeth, but the giant armadillo, Priodontes maximus, has about 80 to 100 small teeth. It reaches a length of approximately 3 m (9.8 ft), whereas the smallest species, the fairy armadillo, Chlamyphorus truncatus, is about 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 in.) in length. When disturbed, many species roll into a ball or wedge themselves into a burrow opening, with the dermal plates helping to protect them. See also: Burrowing animals; Dentition; Edentata; Mammalia; Scale (zoology)
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8500 articles and Research Reviews covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information