Definitions for xenarthra

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Princeton's WordNet

  1. Xenarthra, suborder Xenarthra(noun)

    armadillos; American anteaters; sloths

Freebase

  1. Xenarthra

    The superorder Xenarthra is a group of placental mammals, extant today only in the Americas and represented by anteaters, tree sloths, and armadillos. The origins of the order can be traced as far back as the Paleogene in South America. Xenarthrans developed and diversified extensively in South America during its long period of isolation. They invaded the Antilles by the early Miocene and, starting about nine million years ago, they spread to Central and North America as part of the Great American Interchange. Nearly all of the formerly abundant megafaunal xenarthrans, such as ground sloths, glyptodonts and pampatheres, went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene. Xenarthrans share several characteristics that are not present in other placental mammals. The name Xenarthra, which means "strange joints", was chosen because their vertebral joints have extra articulations and are unlike those of any other mammals — a character referred to as "xenarthry" — and ischiosacral fusion. The males have internal testicles, which are located between the bladder and the rectum. Also, xenarthrans have the lowest metabolic rates among the therians.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Xenarthra

    An order of New World mammals characterized by the absence of incisors and canines from among their teeth, and comprising the ARMADILLOS, the SLOTHS, and the anteaters. The order is distinguished from all others by what are known as xenarthrous vertebrae (xenos, strange; arthron, joint): there are secondary, and sometimes even more, articulations between the vertebrae of the lumbar series. The order was formerly called Edentata. (From Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2d ed; Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th ed, vol. I, p515)

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