Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5 Million Year Old Ground Sloth Found

The nearly intact fossil of an ancient sloth that lived 5 million years ago has been unearthed in Peru, a find about 4 million years older than similar ones discovered in the Americas, researchers said.

The sloth was found beneath the cement floor of a house in the Andean region of Espinar in southern Peru when workers were installing a water system. Parts of a giant armadillo that has also been dated to 5 million years ago were also found nearby.

The sloth, about 10 feet long, was an herbivore and lived during the Mio-Pliocene era, said paleontologist Rodolfo Salas of Peru's Natural History Museum and one of the scientists on the dig sponsored by the French government.

"This skeleton of the sloth is especially important as it is the first complete skeleton of its kind that is 5 million years old in the Americas," he told Reuters. "Previously, discoveries have been made of partial skeletons of similar animals, but from the Pleistocene era, meaning from the last million years."

The sloth was found at 13,000 feet above sea level.

No time for commentary. Just to clarify though this is probably a Pliocene critter, but it does come close to being Miocene. The comment of Mio-Pliocene might have been a slip or a self correction that the reporter repeated verbatim.

I really wish more of Xenarthra had made it into modern times in the New World. Or to be more specific more of Pilosa.


Anonymous said...

I fossil hunt in Florida and come across Giant Armadillo Scutes (Glyptodonts) and a full skeleton of a giant ground sloth (20 feet) was found nearby (Erotherium). We find these along with equus teeth(Pleistocen horse). I find it intriguing that you have found 5 million year ol sloths and armadillos. I know that the giant armadillos traveled from South America all the way to South Florida.

Will Baird said...

Did you mean Eremotherium? A complete, fully articulated sloth is impressive. Did you collect it?