the

Evolution of Armadillos

some of the most common animals in the

world are opportunistic omnivores and

insectivores that's although usually

small dominate the world's ecosystems

and are heavily resistant to climate and

geological changes due to their food

sources being almost inexhaustible at

any time these small animals can rise up

and evolved to become specialists maybe

a giant lumbering herbivore or a

powerful carnivore in South America up

until fairly recently the animals that

filled the same niches as rhinos or even

bears in other parts of the world had

evolved from armadillos because the only

shelled mammal that has ever existed

just happened to be in the right place

at the right time armadillos belonged to

a group of animals are known as Sinatra

that they share with the other unique

South American animals anteaters and

sloths the group of armadillos belong to

is known as single otter and is the

oldest of the son Arthur ins diverging

over 60 million years ago soon after ins

have quite a few features that make them

unique from other animals one of the

main things is that they have very

robust joints in their hind legs the

names are now thourough meaning strange

joints this is an adaptation that

historically freed their fore limbs up

for digging as ores and offerings are

either borrowing animals themselves or

in the case of sloths have many

borrowers in their ancestry possibly the

most interesting thing about sand

offerings though is that they are very

distantly related to nearly all other

mammals although this group is now

exclusively tied to the Americas to find

that place of origin we would actually

need to turn to Africa as there's an

after group most likely first appeared

when South America and Africa were much

closer to each other similar to South

America Africa has its own unique group

of mammals and not closely related to

most other mammals known as afrotheria

this group contains aardvarks elephants

and manatees it is thought that lives

and offerings in Africa formed one group

of animals that that split from all the

other placental mammals a hundred

billion years ago before the extinction

of the dinosaurs

ever when South America and Africa

started to tear apart and move further

and further away from each other they

were isolated but afrotheria seem to

have carried on a full thing at the same

rate as the other mammals and to this

day animals like elephants although

distantly related do not seem primitive

in comparison to any other percent all

mammal however this couldn't be more

different in the case of than Arthur ins

that are very primitive they actually

have the lowest metabolic rate of nearly

all mammals including marsupials only

being beaten by egg-laying mammals like

platypus although it would seem like

this would be a major disadvantage the

low metabolism of armadillos is actually

behind a lot of their success they don't

need to eat much food individuals like

the Andean hairy armadillo can live

altitudes of 4,000 metres their low body

temperatures make them well-suited for

hot environments and it is entirely

possible for having a low metabolic rate

may have been an important precursor in

developing a shell unfortunately the

fossil record among the earliest

singulars is quite poor and the oldest

evidence of armadillos is a bit of

fossilized shell that dates all the way

back to 55 million years ago in the

early Eocene to date no shell list or

transitional armadillo has ever been

discovered meaning exactly how the shell

formed is not understood unsurprisingly

though sing' units most likely evolved

their shell to protect them from

predators but this is only half the

story because why haven't other mammals

of older shell befall if they are a good

predator deterrent some of this could

just be chance as the mutation that

would kick-start the development of a

shell is probably quite rare so it is

more likely that animals would just

become faster and more agile over time

but this could have also been down to

their slow metabolism

although armadillos are surprisingly

speedy if they need to be they are

generally slower moving than animals of

a similar size and so developing a

shield would be very useful if they are

not as quick as other animals for

avoiding predators this hypothesis is

evidenced by the fact that very few

mammals have evolved armor whereas this

is a fairly common adaptation among

cold-blooded animals

unlike other armored animals like

turtles the shell of an armadillo is

both very thin and has a segmented

section in a sensor

this makes armadillo is quite flat

before shelled animals and means they

can enjoy the benefits of having a

shield from predators but also being

fairly quick the difference is in their

shell distinguish them from tortoises

but both of these very different

creatures have converged on some of the

same solutions to overcome certain

difficulties that come with living with

a shell which also just happens to be

one of the funniest examples of

convergent evolution in nature both male

armadillos and turtles have very large

penises for their body size having giant

shells that restrict their movement make

it hard for both type of armored animals

to mate and this was evolutions answer

to this problem

interestingly as this feature has

evolved independently in two different

groups of animals this may have been the

way that heavily armored dinosaurs like

Stegosaurus were able to breed up until

relatively recently South America was an

isolated continent and had its own

unique animals but when the continent

joined up with North America a lot of

these unique animals died out being

replaced with ones coming over from

North America like dogs cats deers and

alpacas today armadillos are usually

either insectivorous or opportunistic

omnivores and no larger than a dock that

they used to occupy all sorts of niches

and have all sorts of different diets

one prehistoric armadillo species the

demonstrates is the best was macro au

fractus there was not an insectivore

or an omnivore that had the sharp teeth

of a carnivore it was about the size of

a leopard so would have been capable of

eating fairly large prey perhaps feeding

on the South American hoofed animals it

shared its habitat with it is possible

the due to the burden of its shell the

macro refractors rarely deployed long

speedy pursuits for their prey and

mainly scavenged ambushed or perhaps

like other army to those dug for their

prey but instead of looking for ants

they may have dug up smaller burrowing

animals maybe even other armadillos

macro you fractus was very unique for

being a carnivorous armadillo the many

prehistoric cingulate were not

omnivorous or insectivorous but instead

involved in the other direction of

becoming giant lumbering herbivores

there were the pig sized Pampa Thesz

that would have grazed on South

America's grasslands known as the pampas

and the truly massive glyptodont

they could grow to the size

the small Rhino and very well may have

filled a similar niche armadillos are

very poorly suited for cold temperatures

and are found exclusively in tropical or

semi tropical ecosystems because of

their low body temperatures and sparse

fur coverings today they are not found

any further north in Kansas or any

further south than northern Argentina

however glyptodont remains have been

found in Santa Cruz one of Argentina's

southern provinces where it can get very

cold in the winter so glib sedans may

have adapted features that made them

better suited for harsher weather but

also it could have just been it because

of their larger sizes they lost their

body heat the glyptodont also looked

quite different to modern armadillos

they had a flat face with the larger

jaws for grinding on vegetation but also

they did not have the distinctive

segmented part of their shell instead it

was just a single large dome which might

have been an adaptation that allow them

to reach larger sizes because of these

differences in body shape it was thought

that the glyptodont family was very

distantly related to any living

armadillo but a recent DNA analysis has

found this not to be true

glyptodont were actually nestled in

between a South American armadillo

families you Frankton a that contains

the hairy armadillos and which includes

macro you fractus Anne Tolley Putin a

that contains a giant armadillo - ipoh

DNA also known as the long nosed

armadillos that contain the only

armadillos found in America are the most

distantly related from all the other

groups meaning that many species of

living armadillo are more closely

related to extinct glyptodont than they

are to the North American armadillos

surprisingly the closest relative of the

clip Sadat's

are actually the smallest species of

armadillo the ten centimeter long pink

fairy armadillo they can fit in the palm

of your hand

glyptodont diverged from the other

armadillos about 30 million years ago

that actually remained about the same

size as most other armadillos until

relatively recently 11 million years ago

they were the size of a large pig but by

2 million years ago they weighed up to 2

tons

why armadillos evolved to fill a large

herbivore niche is quite puzzling

because South America had no shortage of

large herbivores at the time however it

could have been that they were better

adapted to fend off South America's

prehistoric predators the terror birds

these birds were most likely

adapted to hunting large by a Jala so a

lumbering Rhino sized animal with a

shell would have presented a real

challenge for them one member of the

glyptodont family dieter curious even

possessed a large mace at the end of its

tail that it may have used to defend

itself from giant birds but was probably

more likely used as a weapon against

other members of its own species dd

curious was not alone among the

singulars for wearing large bony

ornaments as there was another armadillo

called pelted Phyllis that had a set of

horns on his head pelts of Phyllis lived

much further back than the glyptodont

and was an ancient armadillo from 20

million years ago it predated the time

when armadillo started to become Giants

but was actually quite large by modern

standards being around the same size as

a dog and as there are no living horned

animals anything like this creature it

is very difficult to know what it used

his horns for but probably used them to

rut with other horned armadillos when

South America and North America first

connected about 3 million years ago many

South American animals went extinct due

to competition with northern animals

however armadillos were one of the few

South American creatures that did well

in the North even the giant ones the

medium-sized glyptodont clipped etherium

traveled north and was very successful

in america and mexico this showed these

animals were not fragile and vulnerable

to foreign invaders but were well

evolved in adaptable animals eventually

the giant armadillos went extinct as

recently as 10,000 years ago most likely

due to a combination of climate change

and over hunting from humans although

their giant shell made them virtually

indestructible to non-human animals the

slow speed it would have given them

probably made them vulnerable to a

well-placed spear tip however these

large shelled creatures and their

carnivorous or horn cousins shows that

no animals are inevitable and evolution

can very easily take a different pathway

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