Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Armadillo armor!

Was it Karmadillo, as a friend of mine suggested?

Was it Armed-adillo, as I retorted?

That hard shell on a small armadillo in Texas may have served its protective purpose yesterday, as a bullet shot at it by a man ricocheted off the shell and back at the guy, wounding him in the face. The armadillo's crime was trespassing on the man's property.

a Southern three-banded armadillo, showing its bony plates, scutes, and a whole lotta hair underneath!
photo: WolfmanSF, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Only in Texas, maybe? Apparently not -- a man in Georgia (yes, also the US) wounded his mother-in-law after the bullet he shot at an armadillo ricocheted and hit the poor lady. And sadly also killed the animal.

Beat ya.
Artwork: Liz Climo, Tumblr
Armadillos actually originated in South America, and the 20 living species all still reside there, some of which have since also moved north.

Armadillo means "the little armored one" in Spanish, though the Aztecs called them turtle-rabbits.

Their armor is made of rigid bony plates covered in relatively small, overlapping bony scales called "scutes", that are then covered by the material found in horns! Flexible skin separates the overlapping bands, which cover the animal's head, back, legs, and tail. The bendable nature of this skin allows some species to pull in their legs and roll up into their carapace. Not quite like a turtle, but the same idea.

Two armadillo species can roll into a tight ball to avoid being eaten, while others run from predators into burrows or thorny vegetation (where their outer protection comes in handy).

While the armor may help protect them from bullets, I would gather the protective carapace works a lot better against coyotes, bears, pumas, and alligators.

1 comment:

  1. I'm seeing this specie for the first time. Its shell looks so damn hard. Doesn't seems like its bendable. Really interesting specie!