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Playing opossum.

I was driving west on interstate 26 last week and noticed a dead armadillo on the side of the road. Fifteen years ago it would have caused a traffic jam. Armadillos just didn't come this far north. But something has attracted them here. And if it's true about global warming, they just might replace the opossum as the redneck traditional Sunday dish. Seeing it on the road reminded me of a project I had three years ago that involved another armadillo in South Carolina. But this one had been dead for several hundred thousands of years. And it was big enough to run your car off of the road. During an excavation of a newly discovered Pleistocene site I uncovered the skull of a giant armadillo. At the time I tentatively identified it as a Dire Wolf, based on the elevated crest on top of the cranium. It was located on the side of the excavation pit that was used as a step. Unknowingly, we had been walking on it for days as it lay a few inches under the soil. I threw a plaster jacket around it and carted it home. The excavation was being headed by the South Carolina Museum. Since the project was winding down for the season I decided to prepare the specimen for the museum. A few hours into the project it became clear that I had the skull of a giant armadillo. It was badly crushed and required a lot of tender loving care to reconstruct. But it was definitely work the effort. Although it had no teeth it's still the third most complete skull from North America. The giant armadillo is now extinct and it's not know what the cause was. My best guess? It probably had something to do with "grits". Yuck!
Location Berkeley County, South Carolina, USA

ID677
Memberpaleobum
Date Added10/12/2006

The skull measured 13inches. Complete, it would have been about 15 inches.
Side view. Imagine one of these things digging in your front yard! Instant swimming pool.
Bottom view. The skull was probably relocated after it was original buried. The teeth are round and easily fall out once the flesh decays.
  

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