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Temporal range: Late Paleocene-Recent, 58.7–0 Ma
Glyptotherium restoration
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Xenarthra
Order: Cingulata
Illiger, 1811

Cingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra, is an order of armored New World placental mammals. Dasypodids, the armadillos, are the only surviving family in the order.[1] Two additional families of cingulates much larger than armadillos (maximum body mass of 45 kg (100 lb) in the case of the giant armadillo[2]) existed until recently: pampatheres, which reached weights of up to 200 kg (440 lb)[3] and glyptodonts, which attained masses of 2,000 kg (4,400 lb)[4] or more. The order originated in South America during the Paleocene epoch, and due to the continent's former isolation remained confined to it during most of the Cenozoic. However, the formation of a land bridge allowed members of all three families to migrate to southern North America during the Pliocene[5] or early Pleistocene[6] as part of the Great American Interchange. After surviving for tens of millions of years, both of the larger families apparently died out during the Quaternary extinction event at the beginning of the Holocene,[7][8] along with much of the rest of the regional megafauna, shortly after the colonization of the Americas by Paleo-Indians.


Armadillos have dorsal armor that is formed by osteoderms, plates of dermal bone covered in relatively small, overlapping keratinized epidermal scales called "scutes". Most species have rigid shields over the shoulders and hips, with three to nine bands separated by flexible skin covering the back and flanks.[9]

Pampatheres also had shells that were flexible due to three movable lateral bands of osteoderms.[3] The osteoderms of pampatheres were each covered by a single scute, unlike those of armadillos, which have more than one.[3] Glyptodonts, on the other hand, had rigid, turtle-like shells of fused osteoderms.

All three groups have or had a cap of armor atop their heads. Glyptodonts also had heavily armored tails; some, such as Doedicurus, had mace-like clubs at the ends of their tails, similar to those of ankylosaurs, evidently used for defensive or agonistic purposes.[4]

Most armadillos eat insects and other invertebrates; some are more omnivorous and may also eat small vertebrates and vegetable matter. Pampatheres are thought to have been specialized for grazing,[3] and isotopic analysis indicates the diet of glyptodonts was dominated by C4 grasses.[10]


Glyptodon clavipes (Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin)
Holmesina septentrionalis (Cosmo Caixa, Barcelona)



  1. ^ Gardner, A.L. (2005). "Order Cingulata". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 94–99. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Giant Armadillo Priodontes maximus (Kerr, 1792).
  3. ^ a b c d Vizcaíno, S. F.; De Iuliis, G.; Bargo, M. S. (1998). "Skull Shape, Masticatory Apparatus, and Diet of Vassallia and Holmesina (Mammalia: Xenarthra: Pampatheriidae): When Anatomy Constrains Destiny". Journal of Mammalian Evolution 5 (4): 291–322. doi:10.1023/A:1020500127041. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  4. ^ a b Blanco, R. E.; Jones, W. W.; Rinderknecht, A. (2009-08-26). "The sweet spot of a biological hammer: the centre of percussion of glyptodont (Mammalia: Xenarthra) tail clubs". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276 (1675): 3971–3978. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.1144. ISSN 0962-8452. 
  5. ^ Mead, J. I.; Swift, S. L.; White, R. S.; McDonald, H. G.; Baez, A. (2007). "Late Pleistocene (Rancholabrean) Glyptodont and Pampathere (Xenarthra, Cingulata) from Sonora, Mexico" (PDF). Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas 24 (3): 439–449 (see p. 440). Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  6. ^ Woodburne, M. O. (2010-07-14). "The Great American Biotic Interchange: Dispersals, Tectonics, Climate, Sea Level and Holding Pens". Journal of Mammalian Evolution 17 (4): 245–264 (see p. 249). doi:10.1007/s10914-010-9144-8. ISSN 1064-7554. PMC 2987556. PMID 21125025. 
  7. ^ Hubbe, A.; Hubbe, M.; Neves, W. A. (March 2013). "The Brazilian megamastofauna of the Pleistocene/Holocene transition and its relationship with the early human settlement of the continent". Earth-Science Reviews 118: 1–10 (see pages 3, 6). doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2013.01.003. ISSN 0012-8252. 
  8. ^ Fiedal, Stuart (2009). "Sudden Deaths: The Chronology of Terminal Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinction". In Haynes, Gary. American Megafaunal Extinctions at the End of the Pleistocene. Springer. pp. 21–37 (see p. 31). doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-8793-6_2. ISBN 978-1-4020-8792-9. OCLC 313368423. 
  9. ^ Dickman, Christopher R. (1984). Macdonald, D., ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 781–783. ISBN 0-87196-871-1. 
  10. ^ Pérez-Crespo, V. A.; Arroyo-Cabrales, J.; Alva-Valdivia, L. M.; Morales-Puente, P.; Cienfuegos-Alvarado, E. (2011-10-18). "Diet and habitat definitions for Mexican glyptodonts from Cedral (San Luis Potosí, México) based on stable isotope analysis". Geological Magazine 149 (01): 153–157. doi:10.1017/S0016756811000951. ISSN 0016-7568. 
  11. ^ Guillaume Billet, Lionel Hautier, Christian de Muizon and Xavier Valentin (2011). "Oldest cingulate skulls provide congruence between morphological and molecular scenarios of armadillo evolution". Proceedings of the Royal Society 278. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2443.