Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Creature Feature: Glyptodon.

Cool though MonHunt may be, the majority of its monsters are reptilian. This tends to be a running theme with monsters in general; insectoids and reptiles are strange enough to scare most people, so, with the oddball exception of wolves, mammals don't show up in many horror movies. Maybe it's about time we fixed that.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Well, here's a strange mammal for you! It's a Glyptodon, and was native to South America in the Pleistocene Epoch. That's the same time when all the mammals we know and love, including people, were in odd, freakish proto-forms. Luckily, we're petty sure this one's an herbivore. There were four species in the genus, each of which can be identified by the patterns on the shell.

Armadillos are already strange little things. This is a prehistoric armadillo- that usually means it's bigger and even freakier. Glyptodon was about the size and weight of a Volkswagon Beetle. Let that sink in a minute: an armadillo the size and weight of a small car. OK, minute over.

Unlike modern armadillos, Glyptodon did not have a flexible shell. Its shell was so rigid that its spine was fused to the thing, much like a modern-day turtle's. Glyptodon was capable of tucking its armored head and tail over its vulnerable underbelly, making itself an unappetizing rock of a mammal. This is considered convergent evolution, as ankylosaurs and turtles share similar adaptations.

One thing we aren't sure on concerning this beast is its face. There's a space in its skull for a nose, but we aren't sure what kind of nose it had. The best guess is a tapir-ish trunk. Soft tissue doesn't preserve well, so a proboscis like that is a legitimate guess. Have fun seeing it in your nightmares.

The Glyptodon probably went extinct because of humans. As we've said before, wherever humans live, megafauna tends to die. It's nothing personal - it just tends to happen. Since humans were around for this, you'd expect drawings...but nope. Plushies, however, are a thing:


Don't be afraid to think outside the box. There were Glyptodon in Ice Age, and we're sure GameFreak could make a Pokemon out of this. There are plenty of strange mammals, both living and dead. Not everything has to be bugs and reptiles.

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