The steppe grassland is home to many small seed-eating burrowing animals, particularly mammals. Their burrowing way of life keeps the soil churned up and aerated and prevents all the rich topsoil of the surface layers from being used up too quickly. In this way the plant-life is maintained. In the spring the steppe is a blaze of colour as the flowering plants come into bloom, while in summer the feathery seedheads of the grasses create a totally different landscape.
As in most of the great grasslands of the world, the steppe supports a variety of grazing animals, all of which have evolved since the Mesozoic era. The taranter has evolved from the ankylosaurs, such as Euoplocephalus and Saichania that became so plentiful at the end of the Cretaceous period. The ankylosaurs were divided into two groups. The first were quite lightly built and came to their peak early in Cretaceous times. The more advanced group were heavily built, with massive armour and a weapon on the end of the tail, and were successful after the first group began to decline. Most of the ankylosaurs that exist today are descended from the heavily armoured forms. They were always abundant in this part of the world and fossils reveal that they evolved into grazing animals as the grasslands developed. In the taranter the armour, developed from horn-covered bones set in the skin, has become a continuous covering for the back. This, and the bulbous shape of the body, help to prevent dessication in the dry winds.
Ankylosaur armour, consisting of horn-covered bone, evolved as a defensive mechanism. In the taranter it has become more important as a means of conserving moisture. Hollows inside the skull are lined with damp membranes that moisten the dusty air as it is breathed in. Defensive armour is still present as horny spikes along the flanks and the heavy club on the tail. The head armour of the taranter is a horny covering that forms a grass-cutting beak along the edges of the broad mouth. Flat teeth in the back of the mouth grind up the plant food. By settling down into a hollow and presenting its streamlined armoured surfaces to the wind the taranter can withstand the stinging sand and duststorms that are common in the area.