Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Armadillo's Ancient Texas Roots

The Spaniards named them armadillos – “the little armored ones.” It was a term of affection. A man in east Texas shot one with a .38 and the bullet ricocheted off the armadillo’s thick plating and hit the man in the face. He recovered. The armadillo was never found but is probably still laughing. They are impressive survivors.
Four million years ago, their distant relatives roamed the earth, glyptodons. They reached a weight of two tons, about the size of a rhino.
In 2016 geneticists analyzed the ancient DNA of a glyptodon, comparing it with that of modern armadillos and found evidence that they are directly related. Why the original was so large or why its descendants became miniaturized is an unsolved mystery. The Texas armadillo has earned it's iconic status. During the Great Depression, an era many blamed on President Herbert Hoover, food was scarce, and many people in Texas hunted and ate armadillos, calling them “poor man’s pork” or “Hoover hogs.”
Armadillo (aka The Texas Speed Bump)
To properly honor all the positive influences of the armadillo in Texas, the 1995 legislature declared the nine-banded armadillo the official State Small Mammal of Texas.