ARMADILLO, Da'sypus, a genus of mammalia of the order edentata (i.e., toothless)ó not, however, truly toothless, but having feeble teeth destitute of true roots, and set apart from each other, and so that those of the one jaw fit into the interstices of those of the other. The number of the teeth is different in different species. The muzzle is elongated, and the tongue smooth and slender, with a glutinous saliva, adapted to the capture of ants and other insects, after the manner of the ant-eaters, but not long and extensile, like theirs. The limbs are short and strong, as are also the claws, and the animals have a great aptitude for digging and burrowing, by means of which they seek to shelter themselves from enemiesóburrowing in sand or soft earth with such rapidity that it is almost impossible to dig them out, and indeed it can only be done by persever ing till they are exhausted. But that which peculiarly the A., and in which this genus differs from all the other mammalia, except the cidamyphorus (q.v.), is the bony armor with which, the body is covered, and which consists of polygonal plates not articulated, united on the head to form a solid covering, and similarly to form solid bucklers over the shoulders and the haunches; and between these, disposed in transverse bands, which allow of freedom of motion to the body, similar bands in most species protecting also the tail. Armadillos feed not only on insects, but on vegetable and
animal food of almost every kind, which by decomposition or otherwise has acquired a sufficient softness. Some of them prefer vegetable food, others delight chiefly in carrion. They are all natives of the warm and temperate parts of South America, in the woods and pampas of which they are found in immense numbers. They are timid and inof fensive, although, when they are incautiously assailed, injury may be received from their claws. Their flesh is esteemed a delicacy, particularly that of the species which feed chiefly on vegetable food. The largest species is fully 3 ft. long, exclusive of the tail; the smallest not above 10 in. The species are numerous, and the genus hiss been divided into a number of sub-genera, which some naturalists elevate into genera, naming the family /oricata (i.e., mailed). To this family belongs also the genus oldarnyphorus, also South American. Fossil remains of gigantic extinct armadillos have been found in the pleistocene strata of South America, form rig the genus glyp'todon of Owen, so named front the fluted teeth.