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Temporal range: Pliocene - Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Xenarthra
Order: Cingulata
Family: Glyptodontidae

Glyptodon (type)

Glyptodonts were large relatives of modern armadillos. They first evolved in South America, but when the Panama isthmus formed about 3 Ma ago, several species spread north as part of the Great American Interchange. The main feature of glyptodonts was their tortoise-like body armour that was made of bone segments 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, but unlike most turtles, could not withdraw their heads, so they developed a bony cap on the top of their skull. Even the tail of glyptodonts had a ring of bones for protection. Doedicurus, even possessed a large mace-like tail that it would have used to defend itself from other Doedicurus and predators. Glyptodonts also had size on their side; many such as Glyptodon were the size of cars.

Glyptodonts went extinct at the end of the last Ice Age along with a large amount of other megafauna including the giant ground sloths, the bizarre Macrauchenia and other megafauna with which they shared their homes.