Online Encyclopedia

ARMADILLO

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 561 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ARMADILLO, the Spanish designation for the small mail-clad Central and South American mammals of the order Edentata, constituting the family Dasypodidae. The armature consists,of a bony case, partly composed of solid buckler-like plates, and partly of movable transverse bands, the latter differing in number with the species, and giving to the body a considerable degree of flexibility. The bony plates are overlain by horny scales. Armadillos are omnivorous, feeding on roots, insects, worms, reptiles and carrion, and are mostly, though not universally, Peba Armadillo (Tatusia novemcincta). nocturnal. They are harmless and inoffensive creatures, offering no resistance when caught; their principal means of escape being the extraordinary rapidity with which they burrow in the ground, and the tenacity with which they retain their hold in their subterranean retreats. Notwithstanding the shortness of their limbs they run with rapidity. Most of the species are esteemed good eating by the natives of the countries in which they live. They are all inhabitants of the open plains or the forests of the tropical and temperate parts of South America, with the exception of a few species which range as far north as Texas. The largest species is the giant armadillo (Priodon gigas), measuring nearly a yard long, from the forests of Surinam and Brazil; while one of the smallest is Dasypus minutus, a near ally of the larger D. sexcinctus. The peba (Tatusia novemcincta) represents a group with a large number of movable bands in the armour; while the apar (Tolypeutes tricinctus) and the other members of the same genus are remarkable for their power of rolling themselves up into balls. For the distinctive characters of these and the other genera see EDENTATA.
End of Article: ARMADILLO
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