AskDefine | Define glyptodont

Extensive Definition

expert-subject Biology Glyptodon (Greek for "grooved or carved tooth") was a large, armored mammal, related to the armadillo, that lived during the Pleistocene Epoch. Flatter than a Volkswagen Beetle, but about the same general size and weight, Glyptodon is believed to have been an herbivore, grazing on grasses and other plants found near rivers and small bodies of water. A large and heavy mammal, it could probably only have moved one or two miles per hour.
Its physical appearance superficially resembled the much earlier dinosaurian ankylosaurs, an example of the convergent evolution of unrelated lineages into similar forms.

Evolutionary history

Glyptodon was covered by a protective shell composed of more than 1,000 one inch-thick bony plates, called osteoderms or scutes. Each species of glyptodont had its own unique osteoderm pattern and shell type. With this protection they were armored like turtles. Unlike most turtles, glyptodonts could not withdraw their heads, but instead had a bony cap on the top of their skull. Even the tail of Glyptodon had a ring of bones for protection. Such a massive shell needed considerable support, evidenced by features such as fused vertebrae, short but massive limbs, and a broad shoulder girdle.(Lambert, 196)
The nasal passage was reduced with heavy muscle attachments for some unknown purpose. Some have speculated that the muscle attachments were for a proboscis, or trunk, much like that of a tapir or elephant. Most animals with a trunk, however, have nasal bones receding back on the skull, and glyptodonts do not have this feature. The lower jaws were very deep and helped support massive chewing muscles to help chew the coarse fibrous plants that can be found along river and lake banks.

Notes

References

  • David Lambert and the Diagram Group. The Field Guide to Prehistoric Life. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985. ISBN 0-8160-1125-7
glyptodont in German: Glyptodon
glyptodont in Spanish: Glyptodon
glyptodont in Esperanto: Giganta pratatuo
glyptodont in French: Glyptodon
glyptodont in Hebrew: גליפטודון
glyptodont in Hungarian: Glyptodon
glyptodont in Indonesian: Glyptodon
glyptodont in Italian: Glyptodon
glyptodont in Japanese: グリプトドン
glyptodont in Dutch: Glyptodon
glyptodont in Polish: Doedicurus
glyptodont in Portuguese: Gliptodonte
glyptodont in Russian: Глиптодон
glyptodont in Finnish: Jättiläisvyötiäinen
glyptodont in Swedish: Glyptodont
glyptodont in Chinese: 彫齒獸
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