Dasypodoidea (armadillos; suborder Xenarthra, infra-order Cingulata)
A superfamily that comprises the single family Dasypodidae (armadillos), the oldest known of all S. American edentates and the only types known there from the Palaeocene
and early Eocene
. Armadillos are terrestrial, burrowing, omnivorous animals in which the head is flattened dorsoventrally, the tongue is elongated, and the ears are prominent. In different genera there are usually 14–50 homodont
teeth, but up to 90 have been recorded. There are seven cervical vertebrae, some fused together. There are five digits on the hind limbs and the fore limbs possess three–five claws used in digging. The tail is short, and usually encased in rings of bone. The upper and lower body surfaces are encased in transverse bands of bony scutes
beneath horny plates. There is flexible skin between the plates, permitting some species to roll into a ball. Hair is present on the lower surface and between plates. Armadillos are very successful animals, distributed widely through S. and Central America
, and now moving into N. America. There are nine genera, with 21 species.