Giant Ground Sloths Probably Scavenged Meat

I think we need to hear more about sloths and their probable interaction with humans in early North America.


Caves located in arid climates preserve ground sloth dung that is tens of thousands of years old.  The shasta ground sloth (Nothrotheriops shastensis) ranged throughout the American southwest during the late Pleistocene and left telltale evidence of its diet in several of these caverns including Rampart Cave, Arizona; Shelter Cave, New Mexico; and Gympsum Cave, Nevada.  From the macrofossils and DNA evidence in this dung we know this species ate a wide variety of plants–pine, mulberry, mustards, agave, yucca, grass, mint, globe mallow, saltbush, Mormon tea, grape, water leaf, creosote bush, hop sage, sagebrush, and willow.  There is no evidence from these coprolites that ground sloths ate meat.  Nevertheless, some scientists hypothesize ground sloths did scavenge meat .   Although ground sloths were too slow to actively hunt most prey, they could have taken advantage of available carrion, and perhaps even usurped the kills of predators.  Ground sloths were powerful beasts with long claws…

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About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
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