Dasypus bellus – Wikipedia

Extinct species of mammal

Dasypus bellus, the beautiful armadillo,[2] is an extinct armadillo species endemic to North America and South America from the Pleistocene, living from 1.8 mya—11,000 years ago, existing for approximately 1.789 million years.[3]

Slightly larger than its living relative, the nine-banded armadillo,[2] its fossils are known from Florida and records extend west to New Mexico and north to Iowa and Indiana.[4]


D. bellus jaw.png

D. bellus had small, simple, peg-like teeth similar to D. novemcinctus. Its maximum length was approximately 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) long, twice the size of the nine-banded armadillo. The osteoderms of the shell and the limb bones of D. bellus are about two to two and a half times the extent of those of the living modern nine-banded armadillo D. novemcinctus. The small D. bellus overlapped in size with the D. novemcinctus. The body size of D. bellus decreased during the late Pleistocene, suggesting that its body size was variable.[5]



DNA testing of two D. bellus fossils and modern armadillos has proved the species is not genetically the same. However, one of the D. bellus fossils proved to be a specimen of D. novemcinctus. The mistake was due to the high morphological similarities between the two species. It also proved that D. novemcinctus was in Florida much earlier than previously thought.[5]



Earliest fossils are found in early Pleistocene South America, and would emigrate into southern North America. They have been found at many sites in Florida, including caves, sinkholes, river sites, coastal, and lake deposits. By the late Pleistocene, D. bellus spread into the American Southwest. The living animals apparently preferred dry scrub environments. The most frequent type of fossil found are isolated osteoderms.[5] The most common types of osteoderms that have been found are the hexagonal elements, which include most of osteoderms covering the shoulder or pectoral regions. Other types of osteoderms include those covering the pelvic region of the carapace or the so-called buckler or immovable osteoderms and the elongate rectangular elements from the movable bands, the imbricating or movable osteoderms.[6]

Modern descendants[edit]

The beautiful armadillo likely shares a common lineage with numerous species of large armadillos from the Pleistocene of South America. This includes Propraopus sulcatus and Propraopus grandis. D. kappleri, the great long-nosed armadillo, which is the largest living species of Dasypus from tropical South America, has the same features of osteoderms as D. bellus. They also share a large, unreduced fifth digit on the manus. The range of D. novemcinctus, the smaller nine-banded armadillo, has expanded out of Mexico and into much of the former range of Dasypus bellus. The two species are morphologically similar to each other. This had led many to believe that they might be a single, highly adaptable species that has gone through a course of phenotypical changes along with geographical range fluctuations causing from environmental changes. However, as previously stated, DNA research has proved D. bellus and D. novemcinctus to be separate species.[5]


  1. ^ Simpson, George Gaylord (1929). “Pleistocene mammalian fauna of the Seminole Field, Pinellas County, Florida”. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 56: 579–580. hdl:2246/1326.
  2. ^ a b Illinois State Museum
  3. ^ “The Paleobiology Database query for Dasypus bellus. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
  4. ^ “FaunMap query for Dasypus bellus. Archived from the original on 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
  5. ^ a b c d Shapiro, B.; Graham, R. W.; Letts, B. (2014). “A revised evolutionary history of armadillos (Dasypus) in North America based on ancient mitochondrial DNA”. Boreas. 44 (1): 14–23. doi:10.1111/bor.12094.
  6. ^ Rincón, A. D., White, R. S., & Mcdonald, H. G. (2008). Late Pleistocene cingulates (Mammalia: Xenarthra) from Mene de Inciarte Tar Pits, Sierra de Perijá, western Venezuela. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 28(1), 197–207.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tomak, C.H. (1982). “Dasypus bellus and Other Extinct Mammals From the Prairie-Creek Site”. Journal of Mammalogy. 63 (1): 158–160. doi:10.2307/1380686. JSTOR 1380686. Web of Science.
  • Slaughter, B.H. (1959). “The First Noted Occurrence of Dasypus bellus in Texas”. Field and Lab. 27 (2): 77–80. Web of Science.
  • Stangl, FB (2010). “A Case of Tail Mutation in A North Texas Specimen of the Pleistocene Dasypus bellus (Xenarthra: Dasypodidae)”. Texas Journal of Science. 62 (1): 67–72. Web of Science. Web. 27 Oct. 2015
  • Shapiro, B; Graham, RW; Letts, B (2015). “A Revised Evolutionary History of Armadillos (Dasypus) in North America Based on Ancient Mitochondrial DNA”. Boreas. 44 (1): 14–23. doi:10.1111/bor.12094. Web of Science.
  • Hulbert, Richard. “Dasypus bellus.” Florida Museum of Natural History. n. p. 11 March 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2015[citation needed]
  • “Dasypus bellus Extinct Armadillo Fossil Facts and Photos.” Fossil-Treasures-of-Florida. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.[citation needed]
  • Letts, Brandon, Shapiro, Beth. “The Recovery of Ancient DNA from Dasypus bellus Provides New Possibilities for Investigating Late Pleistocene Mammal Response to Climate Change.” Geophysical Research Abstracts. EGU General Assembly. 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2015
  • Auffenberg, Walter (1957). “A Note on an unusually complete specimen of Dasypus bellus (Simpson) from Florida”. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences. 20 (4): 233–237. JSTOR 24314943.

External links[edit]