Doedicurus clavicaudatus, pestle tail, was a prehistoric glyptodont with a mace-like clubbed tail. Doedicurus lived during the Pleistocene until the end of the last glacial period, some 11,000 years ago. It lived in North and South America and was the largest known glyptodont. Glyptodonts were heavily armored cingulate xenarthrans related to modern armadillos that evolved during the Miocene in South America. Extinction of the glyptodonts coincided with the arrival of early humans in the Americas and evidence suggests that these humans made use of the animal's armored shells.
1. Genera & species
3. History of Discovery
Genera and Species
Classification: Xenarthra, Cingulata, Glyptodontidae
Species: D. clavicaudatus.
Doedicurus had an armored shell made from osteoderms that grew to surround its body. A secondary hump is present on top of the back and may have been a fat reserve similar to that of camels. Doedicurus could not withdraw its head into this shell, as the head had bony armor growths that afforded additional protection from predators. The tail had a spiked club on the end and it had flexible armor covering the upper tail that allowed Doedicurus to swing this club from side to side. Remove the spikes and the club seems to be covered in pestles the source of the name, pestle tail.
HEIGHT: 4 m (12 ft.) long and 1.5 m (5 ft.) tall.
WEIGHT: 1.5 tons.
Traces of predation on glyptodonts are rarely found. Juveniles may have been more vulnerable than adult glyptodonts, but predation on these animals was probably more common than the small collection of damaged bones suggests as they were grazing herbivores. The tails are thought to have been used in competition among males for mates. The damage on the body shells of some Doedicurus specimens match the general size and structure of Doedicurus tail club spikes. Use against predators may not have been effective given that the animal's field of vision was so limited it would essentially have had to blindly thrash the tail club and hope for a hit.
History of Discovery
Discovered by Hermann Burmeister in 1874 and well documented from a wide selection of fossils.
Found in North America and South America in woodlands and grasslands. It shared the grasslands with giant Sloths, Mammoths and other Ice Age megafauna.
1. Doedicurus. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2015, http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/d/doedicurus.html
2. Switek, B. (2011, February 2). Extra Armor Gave Glyptodon an Edge. Retrieved November 8, 2015, http://www.wired.com/2011/02/extra-armor-gave-glyptodon-an-edge/.