The Latin name for the armadillo lizard – Ouroborus -- means “tail-biter,” and it’s no wonder. When this lizard is frightened, it rolls into a ball and hangs onto its tail, like the mythical dragon of the same name. By doing this, the lizard protects its soft belly, exposing only its back – which turns out to be heavily armored.
Edward Stanley, a doctoral candidate in comparative biology at the Museum, uses CT scanning to view the lizard’s “osteoderms” – its bony plates of armor. The data help link the patterns of armor in related lizard species with their evolutionary history.