The Giant Ground Sloths were a group of several different species of sloths, characterized by a large shapes and sizes. This archaeological siteis one of the most intriguing sites known dating from the time of the Clovis people. Mainland North America lost all of its indigenous species around 11,000 years ago, and half a millennium later, South America, too, became a ground sloth-free continent. Descended from their full-sized counterparts on the mainlands, these mammals were resilient. Made sometime during the Pleistocene epoch (between 2.6 million and 11,700 years ago), these were natural marvels, with the longest stretching 130 feet from end to end. Various other smaller species belonging to the subgenus Pseudomegatherium are known from the Andes. The period of the ground sloths’ extinction coincides approximately with the end of the last Ice Age and the arrival of humans in North America. This trait isn’t all that unusual. Your email address will not be published. They originated in the Oligocene about 35 million years ago and lived on the American continents, reaching a weight of several tons and a height of about 4 metres (13 feet). Distribution of the Giant Sloth Megatherium lived in South America, but other giant sloth species lived in various places across the world. However, humans were contemporary to these creatures and are thought to be their primary enemies and predators, responsible for their extinction about 10,000 years ago by hunting them down for food. Giant ground sloths preferred forests along rivers or lakes, but they also lived during the Pleistocene period, also known as the Great Ice Age. © 2020 Extinct Animals | All rights reserved. Your email address will not be published. Whenever a ground sloth did this, its muscular tail would act like another leg, helping to support its considerable body weight. Then, in 2008, incriminating scars were found on the femur of an Ohio Megalonyx. Back in the 1830s, scientist Sir Charles Darwin made several discoveries in parts of South America, during an expedition at a tender age, all of which were mysterious remains of extinct mammalians. The giant ground sloth was one of the enormous creatures that thrived during the ice ages. Giant ground sloths evolved in South America around 35 million years ago, and migrated into North America, starting around 8 million years ago, with the last species arriving here during the Pleistocene. The distribution of these creatures varies based on the species at hand, and the time period. Namely, what caused the relatively recent extinction of nearly every large terrestrial vertebrate on the planet, from South America’s 4,400-pound giant ground sloth to North America’s 2,000-pound short-faced bear? They were slow-moving animals, and the diet of these creatures varied according to climatic changes, while the dung samples also showed which plants these animals preferred, like, during the summer months, they would consume desert plants, while in the winter or wet months they would prefer young leaves from trees. Experts argue that their wide, flattened claws look like ideal tools for excavating roots and tubers [PDF]. The exact reason for their disappearance is yet not known. The extinct ground sloths pursued all sorts of different lifestyles and came in just about every imaginable shape and size. The giant ground sloth was a herbivorous animal that fed mainly on plants that grew on the ground.  Â, What killed off the woolly mammoth, the scimitar cat, and North America’s other ice age mega-mammals? It had large claws both for defense and, as also to pull down branches of trees. Fresh skin, dung and footprints were discovered in a cave in the Patagonian region of Argentina in 1895. Believe it or not, mylodontids might have even been burrowers. Required fields are marked *. Megatherium is an extinct genus of ground sloths endemic to South America that lived from the Early Pliocene through the end of the Pleistocene. During the second voyage of the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin noted the South American belief that "there exists in Paraguay an animal larger than a bullock, & which goes by the name of "gran bestia", and wrote that, "if no credit is given to the actual existence of the "gran bestia"," then it must have been bas… The Historic Site is located at the Kimmswick Site. Several huge, prehistoric tunnels have been found in Argentina [PDF]. A perfect example of this long-gone South American fauna is a ground-dwelling sloth that was the same size as an elephant. Two top suspects are Scelidotherium and Glossotherium: a pair of mylodonts with claws that match scratch marks found inside the burrows.Â. It initially lived in South America but eventually also lived in North America. Many fossilized remains of these now extinct creatures have been found in Arkansas. Megatherium (above) means “giant beast”—a fitting name for a creature that weighed several tons, reached 20 feet in length, and—when reared up on its hind legs—stood over 12 feet tall. Over 100 species of giant ground sloths lived throughout North, Central and South America, ranging in size from the formidable Megatherium americanum which towered 3.5 metres tall (12 feet), and weighed up to 4 tons, to the considerably smaller 90-kg (200-lb) Cuban Megalocnus. M. jeffersonii was apparently the most wide-ranging giant ground sloth. Still, we know more about it than any other ground sloth thanks to one amazing find. 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