Tag Archives: glyptodont

Glyptodos and Glyptodonts*

*Thanks and/or blame for this goes to Tom Luczycki

Hey look! A paleo entry on an supposedly paleontologically themed page! How novel.

I will start with this great coincidence from 2007 when the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s journal (JVP) was released not only on my birthday, but with one of my favorite extinct creatures on the cover:

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JVP Vol. 27, no. 4. Author’s Copy

And since it is one of my favorites, the past few days’ worth of paleo news circulating in the popular press and among friends and colleagues on twitter has been a delight.

Yes, well. If you haven’t heard/read by now, they have played around with some glyptodont DNA (how cool is this?) and determined what any school kid will tell you: They are related to the stately armadillo. Actually related to “armadillos and their allies” so the end is nigh for the Ice Age Axis Powers.

Standoff
Screen grab from BBC’s Ice Age Giants episode 1: Land of the Sabre-tooth

Since the original press release, I have posted several different versions over on the PaleoPorch Facebook Page. Enough to constitute putting them together on here so you can be annoyed all at once instead of incremental scrolls on your timeline.

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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p018t43c/p018t3cd

I mentioned that any school kid will tell you they are related to armadillos. I mean this in the same manner that all school kids will tell you that South America and Africa fit together–it is just obvious. Right?

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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p018t43c/p018t3fp

BBC.Ice.Age.Giants.1of3.Land.of.the.Sabre-Tooth.720p.HDTV.x264.AAC.MVGroup.org[09-20-28]
Look at that shell, pretty dillo like, even upside down. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p018t43c/p018t3cd
Since science doesn’t like to live in the obvious it sometimes takes studies like the one linked above to provide a backing for something that seems self evident. I mean, it *could* be a case of convergent evolution like sharks and dolphins.

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On display at AMNH © AMNH/ D. Finnin Recent source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/amon-meg022216.php

This might also prove that they didn’t have “trunks.”  I never really bought into this argument and it is probably my own fault of thinking about an armadillo with an elephantine proportioned proboscis, which isn’t technically what proponents of the elongated schnoz are/were pitching.  Bit, DNA can’t give us shapes of soft tissue unless it is fully cloned and 100% and viable and… Welcome to Ice Age Park. (A dinosaurid aside: at one point, and I am not sure where in print, Bob Bakker was theorizing that the brachissaurus’ nostril on its head made it akin to an elephant, but Darren Naish (@Tetzoo) put that to rest way back in 2009.)

Now that there is scientific proof that Glyptodonts are related to armadillos, that means the allies range from the pink fairy armadillo, which is about the size of a toilet paper tube, to the Volkswagen beetle behemoths we’ve all come to know and love.

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Clean Burning Diesel, or something. Source: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/scientists-map-genome-of-giant-shelled-mammal-known-as-the-glyptodont/

Besides, I am from Texas, and we love our armadillos, especially when they are Texas-sized. Especially when it means that the beer can be scaled up equally.

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Source: lives, relatively speaking, on pinterest, found through image search, original domain from tineye was a dead link)

We has one of these when I was a kid. It was plush stuffed and not taxidermy stuffed and lived, so to speak, on top of our kitchen cabinets, I thought it was the neatest thing. Full disclosure: Shiner is a better beer.

I was also less than thrilled with the short shrift they got in the Ice Age cartoons too, but that is another story.

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Source: http://iceage.wikia.com/wiki/File:Glyptodon_design.jpg
Stu
How undignified Stu, Source: http://iceage.wikia.com/wiki/Glyptodon

 

A relatively recent documentary on Ice Age Giants captures some great fossil footage of in situ and museum specimens down in Arizona. Ice Age Giants was hosted by Professor Alice Roberts (@DrAliceRoberts) and it definitely worth a watch. (part of an older post here). Here is the first episode and the Glyptodonts show up around the 22:20 mark, just after the Shasta Ground Sloths and the Grand Canyon segment.


BBC.Ice.Age.Giants.1of3.Land.of.the.Sabre… by singaporegeek

As an ending thought, the next time you are out for Mexican food or Tex-Mex, take the opportunity to order yourself a nauseous armadillo (that is a queasy dillo (quesadilla))

 

Ice Age Vogue

From the Denver Museum of Natural History

     
  Suddenly, quite suddenly actually, extinct mammals have shown up in documentaries and traveling exhibits. Granted they are still the “giants,” “titans,” and “other impressive adjectives” versions of the creatures that took over after the dinosaurs died out. These guys are every bit as diverse and impressive as their non mammalian counterparts, they may not be 125ft long with supersonic tail whips, (the blue whale is still the largest thing on the planet. ever.) But their biodiversity and niche filling adaptations make them quite incredible to study. Here is a little preview of a traveling exhibit called Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age,” which, as I write this, is currently on display at the Denver Museum of Natural History. Check with your local (or close-ish) museum to see if they are going to be getting in the next few years.

You may remember her taking National Geographic by storm in 2009.
Waking the Baby Mammoth

If you want a bit of interaction you can go here and play in a virtual lab with more details on Lyuba, the baby mammoth. 

What is really exciting is the upcoming BBC spectacular: Ice Age Giants. I just looked at some of teh storyboard drawings released to the BBC and they are great. I mean, these are enlarge frame and hang in your office good. That is, of course, you have some strange office decorations like I do. Guess what University now has a policy on shrunken heads? The link for the image slideshow is over at BBC News. But, here are a couple that I really liked:

 The trailers for this look fantastic. The CGI has improved so much from when they first started making these kinds of things. I do miss the animatronic stuff, but that usually shows up in larger budget productions. Here is a brief trailer and a bit of the behind the scenes talk with the animators and twitchy digital programs that make animal hair move how its supposed to when an extinct animal walks.

There is a second trailer here that has even better quality previews of the animals. For whatever reson that video will not embed, so you are stuck going over to youtube. It’s worth it though. 
To say that people were just beginning to notice these large hairy mammals is quite untrue. They have always been around. They were some of the first vertebrate fossil remains discovered. Some have even been the basis for national identity as well as bodies of mythological heroes. 
Since the discovery of dinosaurs, however, they have been pushed into the wings, awaiting their cance to shine after big meetings where dino groupies roll like some quasi-scientific wave over the newest argument of Tyrannosaur feathers. Once the scaly/feathery goo has sloughed off the street you can get a clearer view of these impressarios as they were, as they were interpreted, and as they are now. Always, there, they are far more than a dinosaurs understudy. Don’t believe me? Read this. 
                   

They are as part of America as baseball, apple pie, and cliches. Once the dust settled, the revolutionaries turned scientist. Our Founding Fathers worked with Our Founding Fossils. I am working on a paper discussing that which will, hopefully be finished end of June. Look for it in a future post. Until the next time we meet, keep reading the bones.