The armadillos: Characteristics
South America has evolved its own particular group of insect eaters (Order Edentata) and their ancestors were among those placentalmammals that, migrated down from north America through Panama and mingled with the marsupials. However the land bridge did not, in this first instance, last long. After a few million years, it became submerged beneath the sea and once more the continent was cut off and its animals evolved in isolation. Eventually, contact was re established and there was a second invasion from the north as a consequence of which many of the recently evolved South Americanplacentals disappeared, although not all. One of the less specialised of the survivors are the armadillos. Like the pangolins, they are protected by armour which consists of a broad shield over the shoulder and another over the pelvis, with a varying number of half rings over the middle of the back to give a little flexibility. Armadillos eat insects, other invertebrates, carrion, and any small creatures, like lizards, that they manage to catch. Their standard method of seeking food is to dig. They all have an excellent sense of smell and when they detect something edible in the ground, they start excavating with manic speed. When you watch them digging, it seems impossibly that they are able to breathe while excavating, and in fact they are able to hold their breath for up to six minutes while digging.