STL Science Center

STL Science Center

31 December 2016

New Year Fossil

Before discussing this week's fossil I would like to say it has been a lot of fun to work on this every day (with a few exceptions now and then) for the past six years. We have discussed more fossil animals than I care to catalog, which may have been a better idea early on so that I know what animals we have already discussed and when. It is a little difficult to remember all of the animals that we have talked about sometimes considering there are well over 2000 posts recorded.

This week we will start off the new year a little more slow and relaxed than normal with one of our favorite Xenarthan fossils: The Giant Ground Sloth. Specifically we will discuss the genus Megatherium, one of many genera of giant sloths that includes seven species, most notably the type species M. americanum Cuvier 1796; one of the first fossils scientifically described by Georges Cuvier. Ground sloths like this were once common on the plains of Pleistocene North and South America. The sloths made it to North America after they migrated across the Central American isthmus from their native South America and were one of the very few South American taxa successfully survive the influx of North American taxa when the isthmus opened up. Typically depicted on the plains eating from solitary trees, Megatherium was also a forest dwelling animal. Expect to see some sloths in the forest as well as on the plains.
©Jaun Bautista Bru

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