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Holmesina - A Giant Armadillo of the Pliocene and Pleistocene

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  • Neal Robbins
        An illustration of Holmesina is on this link. http://www.avph.com.br/jpg/holmesina.jpg     This link has a fossil photo of Holmesina occidentalis.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2010
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          An illustration of Holmesina is on this link.
      http://www.avph.com.br/jpg/holmesina.jpg

          This link has a fossil photo of Holmesina occidentalis.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ROM_-_Holmesina_Occidentalis.jpg

          This link has a fossil photo of Holmesina septentrionalis.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WLA_hmns_Giant_Armadillo.jpg

          Holmesina was a genus of large armadillos. The systematic paleontology of Holmesina is:

      Mammalia Linnaeus 1758
      Xenarthra Cope 1889
      Cingulata Illiger 1811
      Glyptodontoidea Gray 1869
      Pampatheriidae Paula Couto 1954
      Holmesina Simpson 1930
      Holmesina septentrionalis (type)
      [Note - Leidy named this species Glyptodon septentrionalis in 1889. Simpson recombined it as Holmesina septentrionalis in 1930.]
      H. floridanus
      [Note - Robertson named this species Kraglievichia floridanus in 1976. Edmund (1987), Hulbert and Morgan (1989) and Downing and White (1995) recombined it as Holmesina floridanus.]
      H. occidentalis
      [Note - Hoffstetter named this species Chlamytherium occidentale in 1952. Paulo Couto recombined it as Pampatherium occidentalis in 1954. Castellanos recombined it as Hoffstetter occidentalis in 1957. Hoffstetter (1953), Edmund (1996), and Rincon et al. (2008) recombined it as Holmesina occidentalis.

          Fossils of them have been found in North America, South America, and Central America. Holmesina grew up to 2 m. (6.56 feet) in length. Its maximum weight was around (227 kg.) 500 pounds. Holmesina lived during the Pliocene and Pleistocene.
          Holmesina is in the order Cingulata. It is a member of the family Pampatheriidae, which is completely extinct. Living armadillos are in the family Dasypodidae. Another family within the order Cingulata is Glyptodontidae. All members of it are extinct.
          Holmesina and its cousins in the Pampatheriidae family had flexible armor, which allowed for quick and efficient movements. This is a point of difference between them and the glyptodontids. Some of the armor scutes were rectangular and others were pentagon-shaped. Holmesina had four toes on the front feet and three on the back ones. Holmesina and other members of Pampatheriidae were herbivores.  
          Gerardo De luliis, Maria S. Bargo, and Sergio F. Vizcaino wrote an article titled VARIATION IN SKULL MORPHOLOGY AND MASTICATION IN THE FOSSIL GIANT ARMADILLOS PAMPATHERIUM SSP. AND ALLIED GENERA (MAMMALIA: XENARTHRA: PAMPATHERIIDAE) WITH COMMENTS ON THEIR SYSTEMATICS AND DISTRIBUTION. It was published in 2000 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 20(4): 743-754. This excerpt from the abstract says:

      The masticatory apparatus of Pamaptherium typum, P. humboldti, and Holmesina paulacoutoi are analyzed based on skull, mandibular and dental morphology and the inferred masticatory musculature. Comparison of the apparatus suggests a trend toward increasing ability to process resistant vegetation from Holmesina through Pampatherium.

          This excerpt says:

      Although the taxonomic status of some specimens is equivocal, indications are that the Plio-Pleistocene paleobiogeographic distribution of pampatheres is correlated with masticatory function (and hence diet), with P. typum, the species best adapted for grinding coarse vegetation, occurring in the more arid Pampean regions of South America. H. occidentalis, although a capable grinder, was the least suited to coarse vegetation. It is known from deposits near the current Peru-Ecuador border, an area of humid lowlands during glacial maxima. H. paulacoutoi and P. humboldtii lie between these extremes, with the latter better adapted for abrasive vegetation. These pampatheres have been found at the same localities, mainly through Brazil, which was characterized by wetter conditions than the Pampas. Their presence together suggests either sympatry or occupation of the same region during different times, with their ranges moving either north (P. humboldti) or
      south (H. paulacoutoi) in a transition zone that may have shifted in response to changes in glacial maxima and minima.

          Fossil remains of Holmesina floridanus have been discovered at Bass Point in Sarasota County, Florida. They are dated to the Blancan interval (4.9 - 1.8 million years ago) of the Pliocene. The age estimate is 3.0 - 2.2 million years ago (AEO). [Note - The source of this information is The Paleobiology Database.] Remains were also unearthed in the Bermont Formation at the Crystal River Power Plant in Citrus County, Florida. They are dated to the Irvingtonian interval (1.8 million - 300,000 years ago) of the Pleistocene. The age estimate is 1.6 - 1.5 million years ago (AEO).
          Holmesina septentrionalis is another species. Fossil remains of it were found at Slaton Quarry in Lubbock County, Texas. They are dated to the Irvintonian. The age estimate is 400,000 years ago (AEO). Irvingtonian remains have also been excavated at the McLeod Limerock Mine in Levy County, Florida. The age estimate for them is also 400,000 years ago (AEO). Pleistocene fossil remains of Holmesina septentrionalis were unearthed on Edisto Island, South Carolina. They have an age estimate of 400,000 years ago (AEO). Some Irvingtonian remains (with an age estimate of 400,000 years ago) have been discovered at Kanopolis in Ellsworth County, Kansas. Fossil remains of Holmesina septentrionalis were found in the Chapala Shorelake Beds in Jalisco, Mexico. The age estimate is 300,000 years ago (AEO).
          Fossils of Holmesina occidentalis have been discovered at Mene de Inciarte Tar Seep in Zulia, Venezuela. They are dated to a late Pleistocene interval (high glacial) of 126,000 - 11,000 years ago. Remains of Holmesina sp. were found in the Paso Real Formation at El Indio in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The strata in which they were unearthed is dated to a span of 3.6 million - 781,000 years ago (Late Pliocene-Early Pleistocene). The age estimate is 500,000 - 400,000 years ago (AEO).

          Neal Robbins
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