A detailed analysis of 1,039 scientific studies of extant armadillos (Xenarthra: Cingulata, Dasypodidae) published in the last 25 years (1989–2013) revealed substantial biases in coverage, including taxonomically, the locales where field studies were conducted, and in the topics investigated. Examination of the number of other publications that cited each paper revealed that 470 (45%) papers had been cited no more than 10 times, 249 (24%) had never been cited, and 112 (11%) were not even found in the Google Scholar database. The most heavily cited papers were molecular phylogenetic analyses that often used tissues from one or more species of armadillo but were not about the animals per se. Thus, it appears that research on armadillos is plagued by numerous gaps in coverage and is not reaching a wide audience. These data indicate obvious opportunities for future research. In addition, recent findings suggest that even relatively well-studied phenomena may require reexamination. Here, we review recent advances in the study of armadillos and highlight promising areas for future work. One critical need is for a thorough systematic revision of Dasypodidae to be completed. This will make it possible to prioritize those species and populations most in need of study. Additionally, more long-term field studies of populations of marked individuals are required. Although there are many important and interesting questions waiting to be answered, the small number of researchers currently conducting studies of armadillos, particularly in the wild, means that progress will be slow.
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Vol. 96 • No. 4