Saturday, January 10, 2009

Identical Quadruplets in Armadillos

What a title, right? I know, you are on the edge of your seat awaiting this fascinating subject. Not.

But this is actually very interesting. No, wait, I am serious! Don't leave yet. Hear me out.

The nine-banded armadillo (
Dasypus novemcinctus) produces identical quadruplets as their standard litter, or whatever a group of baby armadillos is called. The fertilized egg (after hanging around for 14 weeks or something without implantation, which is strange in and of itself) divides into two, and each half divides into two more. Then normal development continues, and you get four little clones come spring. Awww. Sometimes, armadillos will have three or five pups but they are always identical.

It happens to be the state animal for Texas. Oh, and the only animal known to carry leprosy besides humans. Um, yeah. Texas' state animal clones its babies and carries leprosy. Just saying. I can't be too harsh on the little bone-plated mammals though, since they are really important for research on Mycobacterium leprae and Hansen's disease (leprosy's more official name).

is more than you ever wanted to know about armadillos from Texas Tech University. And in case you haven't had your fill of armadillo (bad joke, since people can and do eat armadillo), check out "fun facts" here and FAQs here

Side note: I wonder if anyone has done nature/nurture research using baby armadillos from the same litter raised in different environments. Too bad I am not a biologist or biology major. I would have a research project all set there.


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