Like Megatherium, Doedicurus was related to sloths and armadillos.
Meaning of scientific name
"Pestle tail" (presumably because the bony tail looks like a grinding pestle when it is found without the spikes).
Pronunciation of scientific name
4m long, 1.5m high.
Doedicurus was a glyptodont, having a huge domed carapace and looking in the distance like a giant tortoise. The carapace was made up of many tightly fitting scutes, like that of an armadillo, and would have been flexible around the edges. Doedicurus had a long tail of solid bone, with huge spikes on the end.
Many skeletons of glyptodonts are known from South America and southern North America, including those of Doedicurus - especially in the Esenada formation in Argentina.
They inhabited woodlands and grasslands.
This species was herbivorous and browsed and grazed any vegetation it could, possibly digging for roots and tubers as well.
Doedicurus' tail was a formidable weapon, and dented carapaces suggest that they used them against each other - possibly in fights between males. Other than that little is known about their behaviour.
They lived 2 million - 15,000 years ago. Doedicurus was a glyptodont, related to both living armadillos and the sloths. They did very well in South America long after disappearing everywhere else. When North America joined they continued to thrive but eventually succumbed with the rest of the megafauna. Legends suggest that they may still have been alive when humans first arrived in South America, but these may have been based purely on their impressive remains.
Best place to see
Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery; Leeds City Museum Resource Centre; Royal Museum & Museum of Scotland; Oxford University Museum of Natural History; Natural History Museum.
A relative of armadillos (and also sloths and anteaters).