WHAT IS A GROUND SLOTH?



Ground sloths are a diverse group of extinct large bodied mammals, in the mammalian superorder Xenarthra.

Their most recent survivors lived in the Antilles, where it is believed they may have survived as recently as 1550 BC.

However ground sloths have been extinct on the mainland of North and South America for 10,000 years or more.

The term 'ground sloth' is used as a reference for all extinct sloths because of the large size of the earliest forms discovered, as opposed to the still surviving 'tree sloths'. In reality this is a historical convention and does not imply that all extinct sloths were strictly terrestrial in nature.

Why did ground sloths die out

Researchers at the University of Florida reported in 2005 that the Ground Sloth may have died out as a result of human predation, rather than climate change.

Researcher David Steadman reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that evidence of the existence several species of giant sloth has been found in the West Indian islands of Cuba and Hispaniola as recently as 4,400 years ago, about the time of the first human occupation of the area.

Nineteen different species of sloths once roamed the Americas, but they were previously thought to have died out approximately 11,000 years ago. David Steadman argues that the coincidence of timing is strong circumstantial evidence that while climate change may have decimated the population, human predation assisted the extinction of ground sloth in the Americas.

For related articles click onto:
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WHAT IS A GROUND SLOTH?

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