We have covered some strange and exotic animals and this one is near the top of the list. This cute little creature, the Pink Fairy Armadillo is from South America. Weighing less than 120 grams and at less than 5 inches in length, this armadillo has carved its niche in central Argentina. While their physiology may seem bizarre, for millions of years the Pink Fairy Armadillo has survived for thousands and thousands of years. We had another fun week covering an obscure species in dire need. While we do not have hard data on this little animal, data indicates they may be endangered and heading towards extinction. They deserve our attention and love. Plus, come on, Pink Fairy, Armadillo. Fantastic!
Pink Fairy Armadillo History
The Pink Fairy Armadillo is from the Order Cingulata, which includes all armadillos. Of the 20-21 species of armadillo, the Pink Fairy is the smallest. Outside of armadillos, there are no other species within that order. The Pink Fairy Armadillo belongs to the family Chlamyphoridae. Their species name is Chlamyphorus truncatus.
Armadillos evolved in South America. Nearly 130 million years ago South America was isolated from the rest of the land masses around the planet. The animals there then evolved away from any other influenced for the next 125+ million years. It was not until around 3 million years ago when the isthmus of Central America joined with South America did animals then have a chance to interact with others from around the planet. The armadillo is thought to have an ancient ancestor around 60 million years ago. The first armadillo like creature first evolved 32 million years ago. When South America joined up around 3 million years ago, armadillos pushed north through Central and then eventually North America.
Not much is known specifically about Pink Fairy Armadillo’s history. They are now located in central Argentina. Their biggest threat now is loss of habitat and climate change.
Pink Fairy Armadillo Physiology
Like their history, not much is know about Pink Fairy Armadillos. It represents an opportunity for any young scientist wanting to study a unique species. Much of what we know we take from other species of armadillo and assume the Pink Fairy Armadillo follows suit.
The pink coloration in this species is due to a series of blood vessels running along its carapace. The blood flow to this area assists the armadillo in maintaining body temperature. Armadillos as a whole have lower metabolisms and lower body temperatures compared to other mammals. Average body temperatures are 93 F (34 C) for most species. Their basal metabolic rates are 40 to 60% lower than that of other mammals. Scientists believe their “fossorial” lifestyle is a main reason for this adaptation. Fossorial means they are diggers and spend much of their lives digging to find insects, their main food source, and living underground.
Like other armadillos, the Pink Fairy Armadillo has fur under its carapace to keep it warm. They also have massive claws to help them dig. It is said, the Pink Fairy Armadillo can swim in the sand since they move so fast. Armadillos also can usually hold their breath for 4 to 6 minutes while digging underground.
Pink Fairy Armadillo Conservation
These animals are not classified because they are “data deficient.” This means there is not enough data to quantify a rating. However, scientists do note sightings of this animal are rare and they fear they are suffering population decreases. As these animals are sensitive to environmental changes, climate change is a major threat and may drive them to extinction. Also feral dogs and cats are now their main predators and have had a devastating affect on populations.