Researchers have revealed some extraordinary information from the DNA of a 12,000-year old Argentinean fossil, which seems to have belonged to an extinct line of enormous armadillos. But can you believe this Argentinean glyptodont was the size of a Mini once?
A group of scientists just announced on Monday that the fossil belongs to a plant-eating creature called Doedicurus, which weighed approximately a ton and lived in the pampas and savannas of South America.
It disappeared some 10,000 years ago, as did other Iarge Ice Age species. Apparently, its length from head to tail was more than 10 feet.
Evolutionary biologist Frederic Delsuc, one of the researchers involved in this project, believes it was probably as big as a Mini or even a Fiat 500.
It belonged to a group called glyptodonts, which were some of the largest mammals to have ever lived during the Pleistocene epoch. Along with this species lived other ancient animals, such as carnivorous “terror birds”, sloths and sabre-toothed cats.
It is believed that some glyptodonts even traveled to some southern parts of the United States, between Arizona and the Carolinas.
The scientists were able to figure out that this creature belonged to the armadillo line after examining various DNA fragments taken from the fossil. They used a special method in order to obtain DNA from a group of environmental contaminants that had seeped over the eons.
Their findings suggest that the glyptodont species was formed some 35 million years ago. In comparison to this, the oldest armadillo fossil, which was discovered in Brazil, originated about 58 million years ago.
The tail of this huge Argentinean mammal is similar to that of the dinosaur Ankylosaurus, which lived in the Cretaceous Period, around 68-66 million years ago in North America.
According to researchers, this resemblance is consistent with a convergent evolution pattern, in which various scattered organisms start forming similar features in order to adapt to their environments.
Therefore, the spiky, club-like tails of the glyptodonts may have evolved as a result of their need to protect themselves.
Evolutionary biologist Hendrick Poinar from McMaster University in Canada believes that humans definitely played a role in their disappearance. These huge ancient mammals were at risk not only from the various climate changes, but also because humans hunted them regularly.
For more information on this topic, you can find the research in the latest edition of the journal Current Biology.
Image Source: DailyGrail