Archeology

“Glyptodon” Argentinian Farmer Finds A Giant Family Of 20,000-Year-Old Car-Sized Armadillos Buried Near A River

An Argentinian farmer named Juan de Dios Sota was simply transporting his young cattle when he stumbled across something much older — a couple of 20,000-year-old giant armadillos.

The farmer was shocked to find a family of ancient armadillos on his property. It’s believed that the giant armadillo species went extinct 10,000 years ago. This is the first time four of them have been found in the same spot.

Right beneath the farmer’s feet beside the dried riverbed of the Vallimanca stream, were the fossilized remains of four gigantic armadillos also known as Glyptodon.

According to official reports, they’ve been there for well over 20,000 years now, but they were covered by the river which was cleared out by the recent droughts.

“We went there expecting to find two Glyptodonts when the excavation started and then two more were found!” Pablo Messino, an on-site archaeologist

“These kinds of cases, in which several individuals together died in the same circumstances, are really exceptional and undoubtedly will give us a lot of information about these enigmatic animals and will allow us to test several hypotheses that we have been driving in recent years,” he said.

“It is the first time there have been four animals like this in the same site,” added Messino. Since they were all discovered next to each other experts stated that they’re all either member of the same family or they’re most likely just heading towards the same place, which was supported by the fact that they’re all staring down the same direction.

These creatures naturally evolved an armored exterior to protect themselves against other animals, like an ancient, flightless, carnivorous bird known as the Terror Bird.

For on-site paleontologist Ricardo Bonini, the discovery of these VW Beetle-sized specimens could help explain their ancient family structure. He wonders if perhaps the creatures experienced sexual dimorphism, meaning that the size of an individual armadillo would depend on its gender.

“These kinds of cases, in which several individuals together died in the same circumstances, are really exceptional and undoubtedly will give us a lot of information about these enigmatic animals and will allow us to test several hypotheses that we have been driving in recent years,” he said.

Some of the ancient armadillos had shells as long as five feet and as thick as two inches.

According to INCUAPA, Glyptodon roamed South America for 30 million years before facing extinction around 10,000 years ago.

These armadillos were extremely tough, their shells were sturdy enough to block a modern bullet and even their least protected areas had bony deposits known as osteoderms which protected them from any normal blunt force hits.

The ancient armadillo’s tails, meanwhile, could be wielded as weapons with bony clusters at the end, sometimes even spikes.

Experts are now eager to assess how and when these animals died, as well as to clarify whether they were sexually dimorphic or not.

As part of the Xenarthra (or Edentata) superorder of mammals, these hefty armadillo ancestors were staunch herbivores. A 2016 DNA test confirmed that Glyptodon was indeed related to modern-day armadillos — the latter of which means “little armored one” in Spanish.

These creatures naturally evolved an armored exterior to protect themselves against other animals, like an ancient, flightless, carnivorous bird known as the Terror Bird. Even areas not covered by the animal’s shell had bony deposits (osteoderms) as further safeguards.

The animal’s protective shell is made of over 1,000 one-inch-thick bony plates called osteoderms.

The ancient armadillo’s tails, meanwhile, could be wielded as weapons with bony clusters at the end, sometimes even spikes.

This isn’t the first time a discovery like this was made in the region. In 2015, yet another Argentinian farmer found a three-foot-long shell belonging to a Glyptodon. Farmer Jose Antonio Nievas initially thought he discovered a dinosaur shell.

Ultimately, he stumbled upon something just as exciting — the remains of a specimen potentially as old as 30 million years.

As it stands, experts are forging ahead with further testing and are eager to assess just how old these armadillos were when they died, and how they met their end.

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