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On the Wild Side: Strange news from the World of Wildlife!

Nine-banded Armadillo
credit: Mwcolgan8

Sink or Swim

From an engineering standpoint, the armadillo is an exceptional creature. The heavy plates that cover its head, torso, and tail are unique among North American mammals and present foes with a formidable barrier. And since the plates are jointed across the animal's midsection, the armadillo can curl itself into a ball for added protection.

But what happens to the armadillo when it hits the water? Do those same heavy plates become a burden?

Yes, sometimes. But when small streams and ponds must be crossed, the armadillo compensates for the excess weight of its plates by taking deep gulps of air to inflate its intestines. Thus inflated, the intestines make the armadillo buoyant enough to swim short distances. As an alternative, the armadillo can simply walk across the bottom of the stream or pond like a deep-sea diver wearing lead weights.

Click here to learn more about the armadillo.