Forearm of Giant Armadillo - Dasypus gigas (now Priodontes maximus)
Look at those crazy claws! The giant armadillo actually walks on that third digit. Though it walks “normally” on its hind legs, the fore-body weight rests on just those two giant scratchers. They developed that way to help the armadillo dig, but apparently they work for walking on, too…what happens if they break a nail?
- Dasypus - From Ancient Greek dasupous, meaning “rough-foot” - though the -pus in the genus name can be elucidated to mean “foot,” das(y/u)- is not a commonly-used prefix and is not listed in most Greek/Latin root references.
- (Dasypus) gigas - Gigas - from the Ancient Greek gigas, meaning “giant”. However, gigas CURRENTLY means “a billion.” When the name of the genus was changed in the 1950s, the species name was changed, too, as the currently-accepted definition of gigas was no longer appropriate.
- Dasypus gigas - “Giant Rough-Foot”
- Priodontes: Prio - from the Latin prior - “before”, -dontes, from dent/dont, “tooth” - so Prio - dontes means “before teeth” - refers to the fact that the genus is completely toothless.
- (Priodontes) maximus: Maximus - from Latin maximum - “greatest, largest”, which is the superlative form of magnum - “great, large”.
- Priodontes maximus = “Largest before teeth”
On the Anatomy of Vertebrates: Vol II - Birds and Mammals. Richard Owen, 1866.