Is An Armadillo Shell Harder Than a Turtle Shell? Mammal / Reptile
Is An Armadillo Shell Harder Than a Turtle Shell? Both armadillo and turtle are shell-bearing animals, but they have different origin and morphology of their shells. A shell is there for the protection of animals that are easily prone to a harsh environment. Basically, a shell is an outer structure that, in conjunction with protection, also offers different functions like; thermoregulation and storage of minerals, etc.
There are different concepts regarding the hardness of the shell of the armadillo and turtle. According to the Venice Christian School study,
The armadillo shell is harder than that of the turtle. The armadillo’s shell has a genetic makeup that contributes to stronger bony plates and musculature beneath the other core of the shell.
What Animal has the Hardest Shell?
An armadillo is the only mammal that wears a shell. Out of 20 species of armadillo, only one is present in North America, which is known as the nine-banded armadillo due to its characteristic shell morphology.
The word armadillo has its origin in Spanish, which means “a little armor.”
It has salient features like a long nose, the hard, flexible outer shell, and the scales overlaid on bony plates. Armadillos have a hard shell that contains two layers;
- The top layer made of a keratin plate
- The base is made of bony plates called osteoderms.
The armadillo’s shell varies among different species according to their habitat and need. Armadillo has a harder shell than that of a turtle. A turtle’s shell is somewhat hard that provides protection and a heat regulation mechanism and the storehouse for different minerals.
The shell of turtles is like an external covering and has an origin from the skeleton and is made due to the fusion of many bones. These creatures have shell containing three components;
The differences in the composition of these two creatures’ shells make the shells exhibit different hardness to both of them.
Moreover, don’t forget to consider that armadillo is a mammal while turtle an amphibian. That’s why their different habitats demand an extra level of hardness for their protection from predators.
Is an Armadillo Shell Bulletproof?
Undoubtedly, an armadillo’s shell is hard and protects him from the spiky surrounding he used to live in, but it’s not like its shell is bulletproof. However, there are two cases reported online with a little bit of confirmation in which the people get hit with the bullet after a deflection/ricochet from an armadillo’s shell. According to researchers of national geography, there is no truth behind this rumor.
Armadillo’s harder shell is like an armor that renders it a safeguard from small predators. The main composition of the armadillo’s shell is hard mineral tiles. These tiles are found to connect with collagen fibers, also known as Sharpey’s fibers. At the top of the bony plates called osteoderms, keratin is present. There is also evidence of the bony hexagonal or maybe triangular tiles beneath the top layer.
Composition of Armadillo’s Shell
The collagen fibers firmly connect the bony tiles, which makes the armadillo’s shell much hard. The shell covers their complete body except for the head, ear, and underneath the belly part. Also, the armadillo’s shell made of different sections;
- Pectoral shield
- Banded shield
- Pelvic shield
How Hard is an Armadillos Shell?
The hardness of the shell varies among different species of armadillo. Even the smallest species like the pink fairy armadillos have a hard shell, covering their head and back, and protects them from small predators like insects and termites. The larger species, like the nine-banded armadillos, have well strong shell composition. The delicate parts are easily susceptible to get hurt by their enemies.
The shell also provides some specific characteristics to some armadillo species. Like, the three-banded armadillo can roll itself just like a ball, and it is the only armadillo exhibiting such character. The composition of the shell directly relates to its ability to move like a ball. Moreover, its shell is known as the carapace, which is formed by combining many tiny scales, also called scutes.
These scutes are no more than a keratin protein, making structures like nails, hair, and hooves. These structures provide armadillos with a hard shell with even more strength and protection from predators.
Whenever such an armadillo senses danger, it suddenly rolls up its body, covering most of the body’s soft parts, even the head, and belly. Besides, the armadillo also has hard and sharp claws used for defense in conjunction with the burrowing bills to live in.
Can Turtles Move from Shell to Shell?
For turtles and tortoises, a shell is not something that can be easily replaced. In fact, their shell has a strong connection with the spine and ribs, so it cannot slip on and off easily. The turtle needs a shell just like a human needs skin. A turtle is born with a shell that is quite soft. After hatching, this shell becomes hard and provides it with better protection.
The turtle shell’s shape and thickness are so designed not easy to get caught up by the predator’s jaws. An adequate supply of calcium and specific vitamins is also needed to maintain a healthy shell. Moreover, it also needed to synchronize the growth of the shell with that of the turtle body. That’s why they mostly have perfect shell size and thickness.
The different species offer different morphology and hardness to shells. Unlike the tortoise, the turtle’s shell is less strong because nature has designed structures according to animals’ needs. As a turtle spends most of its life in the water, it needs a less strong shell than a tortoise, a land animal.
What Shell is Harder, an Armadillo Shell or a Turtle Shell?
Armadillos have shells much stronger than that of the turtles. As we know, armadillos are mammals, whereas; turtles are amphibians. Nature has provided the protection level according to their need. The armadillo’s shell offers it though appearance and can quickly put off small predators.
They can jump up to 4 feet that would also help them to scare their predator.
Another defensive mechanism they possess is the digging of the burrow to hide quickly. In its case, the shell also keeps them safe from the spiky surrounding in which they usually hide. They use the shell as armor that may help them to protect the attacks and ensure their safety.
How Thick is the Armadillo’s Shell Containing Bony Plates?
Armadillo is among the animals born with a shell, but unlike other shell-bearing animals, they can not face any difficulty running. Living in the wild, armadillos can achieve speed up to 48 km ( 29MPH) per hour. There are many reasons for this fact. First, within the shell, the bony plates are thin and well placed not to bother the animal while walking. Second, the sound and sturdy legs help maintain a constant momentum to avoid a predator’s attack.
The thickness of the shell among different species of armadillo evolved years ago. Other species demand a different level of thickness, and nature has provided them through evolution.
The nine-banded armadillo has a more hardened shell with a thickness of about 1/10th of an inch.
Their shells are hard and flexible and make them well sturdy to cope with the harsh environmental conditions easily.
Why does an Armadillo need a Shell?
The armadillo’s shell is something that it has gifted by birth. There is nothing in this world without any reason, so the presence of a shell on its body evolved with time and need.
A large number of animals live in this world with a shell that helps protect from life-taking attacks. Similarly, the armadillo needs a shell for its safety because of its small size and the wild habitat in which it can be easily get harmed by predators like dogs, etc.
Only two species of armadillo are present outside South America. The other, i.e., nine-banded armadillo, is the only species present in North America. The difference in them is mainly due to the shell morphology.
The three-banded armadillo can protect itself from the attack by just squeezing into the ball form within which it can feel safe unless the threat has gone. So, the shell is something that ensures the safety of the armadillo.
Are Turtle and Armadillo Hard Shell used for Anything?
The turtle and the armadillo shells are used for different purposes. In China, a jelly is formed from the turtle shell that is used in different medications. According to an estimate, almost 200 turtles are killed daily to get the jelly to meet the customer’s demands.
Turtle Shell Soup
Moreover, in the Southern United States of China, turtle shell soup is considered a delicious dish.
Whereas in Asia, turtle shell is used for making decorative combs, earrings, brush handles, jewelry, and boxes. Similarly, guitar picks are made from turtle shells.
On the other hand, the armadillo’s shell is used to form the charango, an Andean lute musical instrument.
So, we come to know that the armadillo shell is harder than that of a turtle. The shell is there for the protection of these animals and to store different minerals within it. Both of their shells contain bony structures that impart characteristic hardness to the shell. Living in different habitat is also a factor that determines their shell’s thickness level. So the armadillo has a harder shell than that of a turtle.