Barricading the Body

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If not always wieldy, armor offers great protection against teeth, talons and pincers--not to mention blades, bullets and shrapnel. On Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong reports that a deep sea snail has evolved one of the toughest shells on the planet, a three-layer system that has scientists rethinking the possibilities of human armor. These creatures must survive "highly acidic water, scorching temperatures and crushing pressures"—as well as prying crabs—and have made the most of their unique environment in doing so. Brian Switek shows us a mammalian version of armor on Laelaps, in his discussion of the peculiar glyptodont. Brian likens these extinct relatives of the armadillo to "extensively armored ground sloths with hard bowl-shaped shells and club-like tails." And on Tetrapod Zoology, Darren Naish brings reptiles into the mix, with everyone's favorite walking fortress, the turtle. These particular turtles are unusual, however, in that they have reduced the boniness of their carapace, resulting in a soft, rubbery shell. When everyone's not out to get you, it's easy to let down your guard.

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