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Dasypus septemcinctus (Linnaeus 1758) Image Gallery
TAX: Class Mammalia; Subclass Theria; Infraclass Eutheria; Order Cingulata; Family Dasypodidae; Subfamily Dasypodinae (Myers et al 2006, Möller-Krull et al 2007). Seven species are recognised in this genus, three are present in Paraguay. Dasypus is derived from a Greek translation of the Aztec name "Azotochtli" which roughly means "tortoise-rabbit"; septemcinctus means "seven bands", in reference to the movable bands across the back. Prior to Hamlett´s (1939) clarification of the species identity, this species had been constantly confused with Dasypus hyvridus and Dasypus novemcinctus in the published literature. Synonyms adapted from Hamlett (1939) and Gardner (2007):
[Dasypus] septemcinctus Linnaeus 1758:51. Type locality "in Indiis" corrected to "Brasilia" by Erxleben (1777) and restricted to Pernambuco, Brazil by Cabrera (1958).
Tatusia (Muletia) propalatum Rhoads 1894:111. Type locality "Bahía" Brazil.
Tatusia megalolepis Cope 1889:134. Type locality "Chapada" Matto Grosso, Brazil.
[Tatusia (Tatusia)] megalolepis Trouessart 1898:1140. Name combination.
[Tatusia (Muletia)] propalatum Trouessart 1898:1140. Name combination.
Tatu septemcincta O.Thomas 1900:548. Name combination.
Tatu megalolepis O.Thomas 1904:243. Name combination.
[Tatus (Tatus)] megalolepis Trouessart 1905:814. Name combination.
[Tatus (Muletia)] propalatum Trouessart 1905:814. Name combination.
Dasypus megalolepe Yepes 1928:468. Name combination and incorrect spelling.
Dasypus propalatus Yepes 1928:468. Name combination.
Dasypus [(Dasypus)] septemcinctus Wetzel & Mondolfi 1979. Name combination.
ENG: Seven-banded Armadillo (Cimari 1996), Seven-banded Long-nosed Armadillo (Cimari 1996), Brazilian Lesser Long-nosed Armadillo (Redford & Eisenberg 1992), Lesser Long-nosed Armadillo (Esquivel 2001), Yellow Armadillo (Gardner 2007).
ESP: Mulita común (Redford & Eisenberg 1992). The Spanish name "Mulita" or "little mule" stems from the long, donkey-like ears present in members of this genus. Despite the name this is not the commonest of the "Mulitas" in Paraguay and is not particularly common anywhere in its range.
GUA: Tatu´i MPA (Villalba & Yanosky 2000), Chachu Ac (Villalba & Yanosky 2000), Tatu kuju Ac (Esquivel 2001). The Guaraní name Tatu´i is the most frequently utilised in Paraguay for this species, the Spanish names rarely being heard in everyday speech. Tatu´i means "little armadillo" in reference to the smaller size of this species when compared to Dasypus novemcinctus, commonly referred to as Tatu hu.
DES: "Long-nosed" Armadillos have a broad, depressed body, an obtusely-pointed rostrum, long, pointed ears and short legs. The carapace consists of two immobile plates, the scapular and pelvic shields separated by 6 or 7 movable bands connected to each other by a fold of hairless skin. The carapace is mostly blackish, hairless and with the scales of the anterior edge of the movable bands not notably different in colour from the rest of the dorsum. Lateral scutes have dark blackish-pink centres only slightly discernible from the rest of the carapace, but never as obviously pale as in Nine-banded. Scutes on the movable bands are triangular in shape, but those on the main plates are rounded. The number of scutes present on the fourth movable band varies from 44 to 52, with a mean of 48.4 (Hamlett 1939). The head is thin and triangular with a sloping forehead and long, mobile ears with rounded tips that are not separated by armour at the base. Head plate is dark and blackish, the scutes of the head plate are heavy and closely attached to the skull. The tail is intermediate length (80-100% body length), broad at the base and narrowing towards the tip. There are four toes on the forefeet (characteristic of the Subfamily Dasypodinae), the middle two much the longest, and five on the hindfeet. The underside is naked and blackish-pink with only a light covering of coarse greyish hair sprouting from regularly-spaced papillae. CR: Steeply descending frontal bone and an almost horizontal rostrum with a triangular tip in lateral profile. DF: Armadillos lack true teeth. "Long-nosed" armadillos have single-rooted, peg-like teeth that lack enamel. Dental formula 6/8=28.
TRA: Dasypus prints can be distinguished from those of other armadillos by their long, pointed toes with four toes on the forefoot and five on the hindfoot. However they generally leave the impression of only the two central toes on the forefeet (though sometimes the outer toe is also visible) and three central toes on the hindfeet. Given a full print, the hindfoot has a pointed heel with three long, somewhat pointed central toes and two, much shorter, outer toes set well back towards the heel. The forefoot has the inner toe much reduced and it rarely leaves an impression. FP: 3 x 1.8cm HP: 4.5 x 3.4cm. PA: 18cm. (Villalba & Yanosky 2000).
MMT: The smallest of the "long-nosed armadillos" in Paraguay. TL: 40.08cm (36.5-47.5cm); HB: 26.05cm (24-30.5cm); TA: 14.75cm (12.5-17cm); FT: 6cm (4.5-7.2cm); EA: 3.09cm (3-3.8cm); WT: 1.63kg (1.45-1.8kg). (Emmons 1999, Redford & Eisenberg 1992) Hamlett (1939) gives the following measurements of preserved specimens for this species Head 6.5cm (5.2-7.3cm); Body: 17.8cm (14.7-20.3cm); TA: 15.3cm (14.6-20cm); EA: 2.67cm (2-3.5cm).
SSP: This is the smallest of the "long-nosed armadillos" in Paraguay and can be immediately separated from the much larger and more widespread Dasypus novemcinctus by the number of bands - 6 or 7 as opposed to eight or nine (usually 8) in that species (Hamlett 1939). Though of similar proportions D.novemcinctus is typically 50% larger in all measurements. Note also that the tail length of D.novemcinctus is equal to or greater than the body length, and that this species is often noticeably proportionately shorter-tailed, the tail being 80-100% body length. It can be further distinguished by the blackish colouration extending to the movable bands, which lack yellowish-white triangular scales on the posterior edge. This species has similarly-proportioned long ears (40-50% of head length) but given the difference in size between the animals the measurements are considerably smaller in this species. Proportionately this species is larger headed with a broader snout (Hamlett 1939). D.novemcinctus has 7 to 9 teeth in the upper jaw, typically 8, compared to 6 in this species. Using the fourth movable band as a standard, Hamlett (1939) noted that this species has a mean of 48.4 scutes (range 44-52) whereas D.novemcinctus has a mean of 60 scutes. Dasypus hybridus is generally much paler in colouration, somewhat yellowish with proportionately shorter ears (25-30% of head length) and noticeably shorter tail (67-70% body length). It is intermediate in size between this species and D.novemcinctus and shares the 6 or 7 movable bands across the dorsum and the 6 teeth in the upper jaw. It has a mean of 54 scutes along the fourth movable band (Hamlett 1939). Prints of D.novemcinctus are approximately 50% larger than those of this species.
DIS: Wide-ranging from the eastern Amazon of Brazil south to northern Rio Grande do Sul, and west through eastern Bolivia and to northern Argentina. In Paraguay the species is possibly widespread but its exact range is unclear as a result of confusion with other species of Dasypus. In eastern Paraguay it occurs in the cerrado belt of Departamentos Concepción and Amambay, south at least to Departamento Canindeyú and, given its presence in north-eastern Provincia Corrientes in Argentina it may well be present in suitable habitat in pretty much all of the southern Departments. However it has not been confirmed to occur in Misiones Province in northern Argentina, though it is supected to occur in open habitats in the south of that Province (Chebez 2001) and the previous extent of the Atlantic Forest may have acted as barrier to the distribution of this species both in Paraguay and northern Argentina. In the Chaco it is absent from the driest areas but apparently present in southern Departamento Boquerón and in the Mato Grosense region of Departamento Alto Paraguay.
HAB: Little information is available on habitat preference in this species, though it apparently prefers dry as opposed to humid areas. Reportedly occurs mainly in open habitats, grasslands and pastures, including cerrado and chaco. In southeastern Brazil it has also been found in gallery forest and shrubland and is apparently able to withstand moderate levels of human disturbance (Edentate Specialist Group 2004). In São Paulo, Brazil Bonato (2002) found the species in low numbers in campo sucio cerrado.
ALI: Almost nothing is known of the specific feeding behaviour of this species but it is likely to be similar to that of the Nine-banded Armadillo. Bonato (2002) found only ants and termites in the diet in the Brazilian cerrado. In captivity it will take yoghurt and eggs (Olmos 1995).
REP: Females give birth to 7 to 9 genetically identical offspring (Esquivel 2001).
BEH: General Behaviour Little known. Solitary and said to be largely nocturnal, though occasionally active at dusk and during the day. However Bonato (2002) found them active only between 6am and 2pm in the Brazilian cerrado. They frequently expand burrows dug by other species. Captive juveniles construct nests at low temperatures. (Redford & Eisenberg 1992)
VOC: Captive animals emit quiet grunts not usually audible in the wild (Villalba & Yanosky 2000).
HUM: Opportunistically hunted for food. During a study of the Xavante indigenous groups inhabiting the cerrado of Central-West Brazil this species was hunted 14 times during 33 months, but was not considered a major part of the diet of the group (Leeuwenberg 1997).
CON: The Seven-banded Armadillo is considered Lowest Risk, least concern by the IUCN, click here to see their latest assessment of the species. The Centro de Datos de Conservación in Paraguay do not list the species and nor is it listed by CITES. This species is extremely little known throughout its range, despite its wide distribution. It is nowhere common in Paraguay but possibly under-recorded because of its superficial similarity to the Nine-banded Armadillo. It is apparently able to withstand a moderate degree of human disturbance and precise data on the threats it faces are lacking. It would seem that, as for other armadillos, habitat destruction, fire and hunting are the major threats to the species, though because of its small size it is unlikely to be specifically sought by hunters and rather more likely the victim of opportunistic killing.
Citable Reference: Smith P (2008) FAUNA Paraguay Online Handbook of Paraguayan Fauna Mammal Species Account 14 Dasypus septemcinctus.
Last Updated: 2 August 2008.
Bonato V 2002 - Ecologia e História Natural de Tatus do Cerrado de Itirapaina, São Paulo (Xenarthra: Dasypodidae) - Masters Dissertation Universidad Estadual de Campinas, Brazil.
Cabrera A 1958 - Catálogo de los Mamíferos de América del Sur - Revista Museo Aregntino de Ciencias Naturales Bernadino Rivadavia Zoology 4: p1-307.
Chebez JC 2001 - Fauna Misionera - LOLA, Buenos Aires.
Cimari AV 1996 - Mamíferos de Santa Catarina - FATMA, Florianópolis.
Cope ED 1889 - On the Mammalia Obtained by the Naturalist Exploring Expedition to Southern Brazil - American Naturalist 23: p128-150.
Edentate Specialist Group 2004 - Species Summaries - Edentata 6: p3-26.
Emmons LH 1999 - Mamíferos de los Bosques Húmedos de América Tropical - Editorial FAN, Santa Cruz.
Erxleben JCP 1777 - Systema Regni Animalis per Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Varietates cun Synonimia et Historial Animalium: Classis 1 Mammalia - Weygandianus, Leipzig.
Esquivel E 2001 - Mamíferos de la Reserva Natural del Bosque Mbaracayú, Paraguay - Fundación Moises Bertoni, Asunción.
Gardner AL 2007 - Mammals of South America Vol 1: Marsupials, Xenarthrans, Shrews and Bats - University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Hamlett GWD 1939 - Identity of Dasypus septemcinctus Linnaeus with Notes on Some Related Species - Journal of Mammalogy 20: p328-336.
Leeuwenberg F 1997 - Edentata as a Food Resource: Subsistence Hunting by Xavante Indians, Brazil - Edentata 3: p1-4.
Linnaeus C 1758 - Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species cum Characteribus, Diferentiis, Synonymis, Locis. Editio Decima. - Laurentii Salvii, Holmiae.
Möller-Krull M, Delsuc F, Churakov G, Marker C, Superina M, Brosius J, Douzery EJP, Schmitz J 2007 - Retroposed Elements and Their Flanking Regions Resolve the Evolutionary History of Xenarthran Mammals (Armadillos, Anteaters and Sloths) - Molecular Biology and Evolution 24: p2573-2582
Myers P, Espinosa R, Parr CS, Jones T, Hammond GS, Dewey A 2006 - The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed July 2008.
Neris N, Colman F, Ovelar E, Sukigara N, Ishii N 2002 - Guía de Mamíferos Medianos y Grandes del Paraguay: Distribución, Tendencia Poblacional y Utilización - SEAM, Asunción.
Nowak RM 1991 - Walker´s Mammals of the World 5th Ed Volume 1 - Johns Hopkins, Baltimore.
Olmos F 1995 - Edentates in the Caatinga of Serra da Capivara National Park - Edentata 2: p16-17.
Redford KH, Eisenberg JF 1992 - Mammals of the Neotropics: Volume 2 The Southern Cone - University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Rhoads SN 1894 - Description of a New Armadillo with Remarks on the Genus Muletia Gray - PNAS Philadelphia 1894: p111-114.
Thomas O 1900 - List of the Mammals Obtained by Dr G Franco Grillo in the Province of Paraná, Brazil - Ann. Mus. Civico Storia Nat. Genova Ser.2 20: p546-549.
Thomas O 1904 - On the Mammals Collected by Mr A Robert at Chapada, Matto Grosso (Percy Sladen Expedition to Central Brazil) - Proceedings of Zoological Society of London 1903: p232-244.
Trouessart EL 1898 - Catalogus Mammalium tam Viventium quam Fossilium. Fasciculus V: Sirenia, Cetacea, Edentata, Marsupialia, Allotheria, Monotremata - R.Friedländer & Sohn, Berolini.
Trouessart EL 1905 - Catalogus Mammalium tam Viventium quam Fossilium. Quinquennale Supplementium (1899-1904) Cetacea, Edentata, Marsupialia, Allotheria, Monotremata Index Alpabeticus - R.Friedländer & Sohn, Berolini.
Villalba R, Yanosky A 2000 - Guía de Huellas y Señales: Fauna Paraguaya - Fundación Moises Bertoni, Asunción.
Wetzel RM, Mondolfi E 1979 - The Subgenera and Species of Long-nosed Armadillos Genus Dasypus p43-63 in Eisenberg JF Vertebrate Ecology in the Northern Neotropics - Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC.
Yepes J 1928 - Los "Edentata" Argentinos. Sistemática y Distribución - Revista Universidad de Buenos Aires Serie 2a 1:p461-515.
Many thanks to Mariella Superina for assisting with obtaining some of the references used in the construction of this species account.