Gososo-Maned Wolves & Armadillo by Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen


The imperative to avoid being eaten is one of the prime drivers of evolution. Protective armor can be an

effective defense, and it has evolved independently in many animal groups. Its main liability is in

adding weight and reducing flexibility, limiting the creature's ability to flee from predators, thus

entrenching its own value. Among modern mammals, this defense is the specialty of the South

American armadillos, whose success is confirmed by the family's northward expansion over the past

few million years, leaving two species in Central America, one of them ranging well into the United

States. Best protected are the two species of three-banded armadillos (Tolypeutes spp.), which can roll

up into perfect plated spheres. In this painting, the fortification of the species T. matacus is being

tested by a pair of gangly, knock-kneed Maned Wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus). These unusual canids

of the South American plains have no close living relatives. Despite their exceptionally long legs, they

are not particularly fleet of foot, but probably benefit from them by being able to see over tall grass.

Normally solitary hunters, during the breeding season mated couples often forage together. The Maned

Wolf's diet consists of small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and fruit. The title of this painting,

“Gostoso,” is a Brazilian soccer cheer, roughly the Portuguese equivalent of “tasty.” Incidental subjects

include Pampas Grass (Cortaderia argentea), Spiny Tree Lizard (Tropidurus spinulosus), Yellow-

headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima), spinetail (family Furnariidae) and Black Howler Monkey

(Allouatta caraya).

Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen