A team of U.S. and Chilean scientists working high in the Andes have discovered the fossilized remains of an extinct, tank-like mammal they conclude was a primitive relative of today’s armadillos. The results of their surprising new discovery are described in an upcoming issue of Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The partial skeleton was unearthed by the group in 2004 and found to represent a new species of glyptodont–a family of hard-shelled, grazing mammals that may have occasionally tipped the scales at two tons. The newly described animal, which was given the tongue-twisting name Parapropalaehoplophorus septentrionalis, likely weighed in at a mere 200 pounds and was covered with a massive shell of immovable armored plates, unlike the hinged rows of plates on armadillos. The fossil was found at the unusually high elevation of 14,000 feet.