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Quest For The Giant Sloth
About The Sloth
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The giant ground sloth was an enormous creature with an appearance similar to that of an oversized hamster. In all likelihood, it fed on leaves found on the lower branches of trees and bushes. The largest of these ground sloths was Megatherium, which grew to the size of a modern elephant. Like other giant creatures that disappeared thousands of years ago, Megatherium, and its smaller sloth cousin, Mylodon, are extinct. Only the small tree sloth survives today . . . or so scientists believe.

In the 1890's an Argentinean explorer, geographer and adventurer, Ramon Lista, was hunting in a portion of his country, known as Patagonia, when a large, unknown creature covered with long hair trotted past his party. To Lista, the creature looked like a gigantic armadillo. The party shot at the beast, but the bullets seemed to have no effect.

Professor Florentino Ameghino, a paleontologist in Argentina, heard the Lista story and began to wonder if the strange beast was a giant sloth that had somehow survived till the present day. He might not have put much stock in the Lista story if it had not been for the legends he had collected from natives in the Patagonia region about hunting such a large creature in ancient times.

The animal in the stories was nocturnal, and slept during the day in burrows it dug with its large claws. The natives also found it difficult to get their arrows to penetrate the animal's skin.

Ameghino, furthermore, had a piece of physical evidence: A small section of apparently fresh hide found by a rancher named Eberhardt on his property in a cave in 1895. The hide was studded with small, hard, calcium nodules and would have been impervious to the teeth of many predators. It seemed likely that it would have also resisted native arrows, along with Lista's bullets.

So sure was Ameghino this was the creature Lista had seen, he decided to name it after him: Nemoylodon listai, or "Lista's new Mylodon."

Expeditions to Eberhardt's cave and other caves soon recovered additional pieces of hide. With the development of the debated Carbon-14 dating method in the twentieth century, the age of the Mylodon remains in the Eberhardt's cave was apparantly settled. In short, the skin was estimated to be roughly 5,000 years old. Conditions in the caves may have preserved the skin, making it look fresh to the eye and fooling Ameghino.

No additional evidence has turned up that the giant sloth survives today. S.C.O.P.E, however, wishes to make history, and we support and congratulate their efforts.


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