The Order Xenarthra is a diverse group of New World animals that includes anteaters, armadillos, and sloths. Xenarthrans (formerly called edentates) have an extra point of articulation between each successive pair of vertebrae, giving the spine additional strength.
Although all of the living sloths are arboreal, there were four distinct families of fossil ground sloths consisting of fifty genera, many of which are well known from their mummified remains, dried skin, and dung found in caves in the southwestern United States and Patagonia. The two most commonly invoked to explain the four South American cryptids in this section are Mylodon and Megatherium.
The Patagonian cave dweller (Mylodon dar-winii) was covered in long, reddish- or yellowish-brown hair; underneath the skin, it had sturdy, pebblelike dermal ossicles. It was a grazing animal that subsisted on grasses, herbs, and roots. The most recent remains are dated at 8,600 years ago.
The Giant ground sloth (Megatherium ameri-
canum) could walk both on its hind legs and on all fours. It was a browser, using the large, curved claws on its front feet to pull down tree branches. This 20-foot, elephant-sized sloth ranged from Texas to Argentina from the Late Pliocene, 1.9 million years ago, to as recently as the Late Pleistocene, 8,000 years ago.
Ecuadorean Ground Sloth; Ellengassen; Mapinguari; Succarath
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