Check out the armor on this Fossil Friday! This is Panochthus frenzelianus, a giant glyptodont that lived in South America, just before the extinction of the glyptodonts, at the end of the last ice age, about 30,000 years ago. Some glyptodonts grew to be over 10 feet long and may have weighed as much as a ton, including the shell. Their teeth were small and shaped like columns, with flat surfaces for grinding up plants. 

The head of most glyptodonts was armored, and could also be retracted into the shell opening; the feet and tail were protected by armor as well. These shields deterred all but the most powerful carnivores from attacking this animal fortress. 

Both armadillos and glyptodonts have a completely bony shell covering their bodies. The shells are constructed differently, however. While an armadillo is covered by parallel rows of bony bands, enabling the animal to roll up into a ball when threatened, a glyptodont’s shell was composed of thick bony rosettes fused solidly together, which meant that glyptodont’s could not roll into a ball. 

Find this fossil in the Museum’s Hall of Primitive Mammals

Venezuelan paleontologist Ascanio Rincon shows the skull of a glyptodont found in Venezuela, in Caracas on August, 30, 2013.

Under the Venezuelan rich soil lies more than oil: paleontologists have found traces of an armadillo the size of a Volkswagen, a crocodile bigger than a bus, a mastodon of six tonnes and a saber-toothed tiger. Now, they walk after the human fossil. (AFP Photo/Juan Barreto)


Animals known to live in aardvark burrows.

The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is the largest burrowing mammal.* Its burrows provide a home for all sorts of creatures – the porcupine, South African shelduck and anteater chat will live with aardvarks as lodgers; warthogs, hyenas and wild dogs occupy abandoned burrows.

Here’s some pictures of wild dogs digging into an aardvark burrow to get a warthog. Don’t say I don’t give you nice things.

Alright then so let’s get into the juicy Pleistocene meat of the matter. It’s well documented that ground sloths lived in burrows, and ground sloths were significantly larger than aardvarks.

Ground sloth burrows! Top photo by Givago Capistrano. Bottom photo from here.

Ground sloth burrows are huge, and if aardvarks can unwittingly provide homes for so many animals (apparently Reay H. N. Smithers recorded seventeen mammal species in aardvark burrows**) imagine the kind of crazy things you’d get living in a ground sloth burrow back in the day.

They’ve already found glyptodont and remains in ground sloth burrows (paper available as a .pdf) – so many that at first palaeontologists wondered if the burrows were made by glyptodonts. But apparently glyptodonts had terrible anatomy and couldn’t dig very well. Que sera sera. Fortunately, there were bigger xenarthrans around to provide them with a home.

What if glyptodonts and megatheres didn’t just hang out in museum exhibits, but were besties in the Pleistocene, too? (Photo from here.)

*Okay, so larger animals do dig holes – polar bears construct burrows to hibernate in – but aardvarks are certainly the largest burrowing mammal that live in burrows year round. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the wombat as the largest burrowing mammal but that’s bullshit because aardvarks are like a metre longer and twice as heavy as wombats. Take that, Australia.

**This was in Mammals of Botswana (1971) which I haven’t actually read. But I ain’t gonna waste a sweet statistic like that.

Happy National Fossil Day!!! Here in the photo archives one of our favorite fossils is the Glyptodont because he gets to walk around with his own portable dark room.

What’s your favorite fossil?

© The Field Museum, GEO79991.

Glyptodont skeleton. Glyptodont were  large, armored mammal of the family Glyptodontidae, a relative of armadillos that lived during the Pleistocene epoch.

8x10 negative


just2spoopy replied to your post: “oh muh gawrsh hi new followers hi how are you whats yr favorite…”:

hiii! I have a lot of fave dinosaurs, but I think my current #1 is the ankylosaurus, because it has an awesome knobby tail and a pangolin-like/turtle-y shell! :D

oh gosh, if you like those, then you would probably dig their miocene mammalian counterparts if you havent heard of em already


a glyptodont

A glyptodont went up against a saber toothed marsupial. The glyptodont was barely phased, the saber tooth, not so lucky.

Moral of the story… never mess with a glyptodont.

© The Field Museum, GEO80218 thru GEO80221

Glyptodont with a big tail club, is shown using its club against the sabertoothed marsupial. Preliminary sketch painting by John Conrad Hansen Hall 38 Case 36.

8x10 negatives


Giant Prehistoric Shell Discovered in Buenos Aires – Articles – Coast to Coast AM

A farmer in Buenos Aires made a colossal discovery on Christmas Day when he uncovered this enormous ancient shell inside of a river bank.After spotting a small portion of the object, Jose Antonio Nievas dug around it and eventually unearthed the complete spherical wonder.Originally, he believed that it was a dinosaur egg, but experts who have examined images of the three-foot-long object are fairly convinced that it is the shell of a prehistoric form of armadillo, known as the glyptodont. Source: Giant Prehistoric Shell Discovered in Buenos Aires - Articles - Coast to Coast AM