How to cope with the armor: Adaptive strategies in the physiology and reproduction of armadillos

De Mendoza CONICET

Revisión a fecha de 18:17 15 jul 2010; Mmorales (Discusión | contribuciones)
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Armadillos (Dasypodidae) have many fascinating and unique anatomical and physiological traits. The high thermal conductance related to their most prominent morphological feature, the osseous carapace, requires physiological adaptations that allow them to cope with changing environments. Among others, armadillos have a relatively low and variable body temperature, which has led some researchers to classify them as imperfect or incomplete homeotherms. The question arises, however, whether their thermoregulatory system is indeed poorly developed or rather an adaptation that evolved to reduce energetic demands. The morphology of armadillos also bears different direct and indirect challenges for their reproductive strategy. Presence of a carapace, for instance, may interfere with mating, birth, and postnatal development. Finally, armadillos lack an obvious sexual dimorphism. Sexual monomorphism is often associated with monogamy and parental care of the young by males, both of which seem improbable in these solitary mammals. In recent years, significant advances have been made in the knowledge of morphological, physiological, and behavioral characteristics of armadillo reproduction. The state of the art of reproductive strategies of armadillos will be presented and ways to fill the gaps in our current knowledge explored.

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