The armadillo is a 12 to 15 centimetre long mammal with a leathery armour shell made of keratin. The word armadillo in Spanish means "little armoured one" and the animal is primarily found in South and Central America, particularly in Paraguay and surrounding areas.
The armour is formed by plates of dermal bone (keratin) covered in relatively small, overlapping epidermal scales called "scutes". Most species have rigid shields over the shoulders and hips and a number of bands separated by flexible skin cover the back and flanks. Additional armour covers the top of the head, the upper parts of the limbs, and the tail. The underside of the animal is never armoured, and is simply covered with soft skin and fur.
The armadillo rely heavily on its armour for protection and when it feel threatened it simply rolls up into a ball protecting the vulnerable and vital organs and limbs, presenting a predator with a frustrating ball game instead of a meal.
This type of structure could be used in a number of different ways from bendable to adaptable facades to foldable photovoltaic cells.
Other uses can be casts for broken bones that protect the skin beneath, protective equipment etc.
by Cecilia Rudstrom