Okay, so we know that armadillos have been around for a while. However, would you have been able to guess that they were around since the Ice Age? Well, thanks to recent discovery scientists have made, we can now rest assured knowing that armadillos are much older than we originally thought.

DNA Confirms Lineage

The discovery was made when scientists used the DNA of a 12,000-year-old fossil found in Argentina to study thestrange fossil’s similarities to animals in our modern world.

The species, known as Doedicurus, was believed to be a part of a distinct lineage of giant armadillos.

Doedicurus was an herbivore, weighed close to a ton and lived in South America about 10,000 years ago. It also resembled the dinosaur Ankylosaurus in that it had similar body armor and a clubbed tail. The DNA provided insight that we never would have known otherwise about the tank-like animal that was around the size of a car.

How Scientists Found Out

A team of scientists were able to make the connection between Doedicurus and the other glyptodonts, a group of species, into the armadillo’s lineage by studying small fragments of DNA that were extracted from bits of the creature's bones. The team of researchers used an advanced technique to pull mitochondrial DNA out from a very complex combination of DNA and environmental contaminants that had blended into the fossil over the years.

In addition to resembling the armadillo, the Doedicurus’ tail was also found to resemble the Ankylosaurus - a better-known dinosaur with an extremely well armored tail. Scientists believe that the species used its armadillo-like armor to defend against predators and its Ankylosaurus-like tail to strike back at predators. It’s safe to say that the Doedicurus was not an easy target.

Humans May Have Contributed to Extinction

Considering the fact that this species existed during the Ice Age, it is still unknown as to whether or not humans had a role in this fascinating species’ extinction. Researchers have also argued that the resemblance between the armadillo and the Doedicurus is a result of convergent evolution - which is an idea that different organisms develop similar traits in order to adapt to the same environment.

Evolution is a subject that humans have a hard time understanding. Even scientists with the world’s best technology cannot even begin to fathom what made certain species adapt and change the way they did. However, perhaps with the continued exploration of discoveries such as the Doedicurus lineage, the world may one day be able to understand the one question we want to find the answer to: How did we get to the point we are at, and why are we here?