Megatherium probably used its lips more than its tongue when feeling for choice leaves in the treetops.
Megatherium Scientific Classification
Scientific name
M. americanum
Megatherium Physical Characteristics
Megatherium Distribition

Considering existing- day sloths, it’s tough to visualize that at one factor a gigantic sloth– the Megatherium was amongst the most significant land animals to wander the Planet.

Megatherium Summary & Dimension

M. americanum, the “fantastic monster from America,” is the only species of huge ground sloth from the Megatherium genus. Modern sloths usually determine much less than a meter in size and just evaluate around 5kg (11 pounds). However scientists approximate that the Megatherium depended on 10 times bigger.

Existing fossil documents show that this huge sloth got to weights of as much as 4 bunches (8,000 pounds) and towered above 3 meters high when standing upright on its back legs. And head- to- tail, Megatherium determined around 6 meters (20 feet) generally.

Its skeletal framework recommends that it strolled cross countries on all fours to disperse its weight equally. However its brief hind legs and broad hips additionally inform us that the Megatherium most likely invested a great deal of time standing and relaxing on its back legs and brief, thick tail.

One fascinating feature of Megatherium makeup is their substantial 7- inch claws. Due to their claw size, this huge sloth was incapable to stroll on the apartments of its paws like any type of various other creature. This would certainly have been one more factor they possibly strolled cross countries on all fours. The weight distribution would certainly have been a lot more comfy in this unpleasant strolling setting.

Esteban De Armas/Shutterstock. com

The Megatherium had an oddly little head and mouth for such a huge animal. As a matter of fact, amongst all various other ground sloths that existed throughout the Pleistocene date, it had the narrowest mouth. It was bigger in the back and limited to the front in a cone form. This most likely indicated that it was far more discerning in the vegetation it consumed. This would not have actually been an issue due to the fact that it would possibly have actually gotten to greater in the trees than any type of various other herbivore of its time.

Trick features of Megatherium:

  • 6 meters long and considered about 4 bunches
  • Stood 3 meters high on its back legs
  • Used much of its time hing on its buttocks
  • Had the narrowest mouth of any type of ground sloth of its time
  • Strolled on the sides of its paws as opposed to all-time lows

Diet – What Did Megatherium Eat?

We understand that the Megatherium was not a predator based upon its mouth and tooth framework alone, and it possibly had not been quick adequate to be a killer anyhow. At the very same time, we do not have definitive proof that it was purely a herbivore either.

Based upon tooth continues to be that scientists have actually located, they understand that the key diet of the huge sloth was sandy and coarse. With that said stated, it would certainly have extremely little competitors for food– despite having several various other herbivores around. Not just would it have actually can consuming reduced greenery or excavating for origins, however it might have gotten to greater than the majority of various other plant- eaters.

There are additionally concepts that the Megatherium might have additionally consumed meat to supplement its diet. Some state this might have merely been scavenging animal remains. Nevertheless, it additionally had the dimension to eliminate various other herbivores.

Several of these concepts started with Richard Fariña, a paleontologist from Montevideo College of the Republic. At one factor, he concurred with the usual agreement that the Megatherium was a herbivore. Nevertheless, according to fossil documents, the South American steppes where the huge sloth lived were residence to several herbivores. And due to the fact that there were extremely couple of predators existing, Fariña hypothesized that the setting could not have actually sustained the variety of herbivores, and he believed that Megatherium might have been an omnivore.

This isn’t evidence by itself due to the fact that no fossil proof sustains it. However it’s an intriguing concept that the fossil document does not reject, either.

Environment – When and Where It lived

Much like its contemporary forefather, the tree sloth that’s presently restricted to South and Central America, Megatherium continues to be have actually just been located in 3 locations in South America; Argentina, Uruguay, and Bolivia. Scientists think this ground sloth would certainly have taken a trip thoroughly throughout South and Central America.

Based upon the fossil continues to be exposed by scientists, they approximate that Megatherium lived throughout the Center Pleistocene with to the begin of the Holocene, around 400,000 up till around 8,000 years earlier.

Hazards And Predators

Something that the Megatherium would certainly never ever have actually needed to stress over was lacking food. Also if various other animals consumed all the ground greenery, they would certainly have constantly had the treetops as an alternative.

And due to where and when the Megatherium lived, there were not really a great deal of predators that would certainly have can bringing it down. And there is no fossil proof to inform us what animals would certainly have intimidated them.

One opportunity is the Homotherium, or as many individuals understand them, the sword- toothed cat. This terrifying cat most likely pursued in packs. And despite the fact that they weren’t as huge as an ordinary grown-up human, they might lower target a lot bigger than themselves.

One interesting feature of predators that does not turn up extremely usually when discussing primitive or old species is the hazard of humans. However due to the fact that Megatherium fossils have actually been dated as young as 8,000 to 7,000 years earlier, it does not come as a large shock we have actually located proof of humans searching these huge ground sloths.

In 2017, scientists found over 100 tracks in the White Sands. These impacts narrated of a fight in between a Megatherium and a human. Additionally, there have actually additionally been fossils recouped that have cuts on them. This suffices to inform that this huge monster was most likely on the food selection numerous thousand years earlier.

Discoveries and Fossils – Where It was Located

The very first Megatherium fossils were found in Argentina by Manuel Torres in 1978. He discovered them along the side of the Luján River. A year later on, Torres sent out the fossils to Madrid, and the initial skeletal system is presently shown at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias.

Because Torres discovered the very first Megatherium fossils, scientists have actually found numerous various other samplings throughout South America. Some noteworthy locations are Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, and Columbia.

In 2004 and 2006, scientists assumed they might have found 2 brand-new Megatherium subspecies;  M. urbinai and M. celendinense Nevertheless, these subspecies were significantly smaller sized, and scientists appointed them their very own subgenus: Pseudomegatherium

Termination – When Did It Pass away Out?

According to a lot of the fossil proof, scientists presume that the majority of Megatherium most likely began passing away out around 12,000 years earlier throughout completion of the Cenozoic period throughout the Quaternary duration. A lot of scientists settle on 2 substantial variables to the Quaternary termination occasion: environment modification and humans.

The Quaternary duration was loaded with adjustments in the environment. In South America, where the Megatherium lived, temperature levels would certainly have most likely changed drastically and come to be cooler and a lot more dry. This huge sloth really did not decrease without a battle due to the fact that we understand that it lasted for a lot more years. The toughest had the ability to adjust to a specific level.

Nevertheless, after that came humans. Impact and fossil explorations reveal that humans pursued the huge ground sloth. Numerous scientists concur that that was the major consider their death, as held true for numerous various other species worldwide in those transforming times.

One fascinating point worth keeping in mind is that there is some conjecture that the Megatherium is not completely extinct. Some tales in South America of a gigantic monster still wandering the Amazon jungle match the summary sensibly well that we have of the huge ground sloth. There is no definitive proof, however it’s an amazing idea.

Similar Animals to the Megatherium

Learn More concerning some similar animals to the Megatherium:

  • Eremotherium: The Eremotherium is one more genus of ground sloths living prior to and along withMegatherium The genus has 3 species: E. laurillardi, E. rusconi, and E. eomigrans Fossil documents reveal that this sloth lived around 2 to 1.6 million years ago up till around 11,000 years earlier.
  • Paraceratherium: The Paraceratherium is a genus of hornless rhinocerouses. It was initially found in what’s currently Pakistan. While it would not have actually lived along with the huge ground sloths, it would certainly have been a similar dimension– albeit much larger at 15 to 20 bunches.
  • African Bush Elephant: It’s one point to consider fossils and visualize just how big Megatherium would certainly have been, however it’s one more to consider a living animal that is a similar dimension. That’s what we obtain when we consider the African bush elephant. This is the biggest living elephant today. Sizewise it approaches what the standard Megatherium would certainly have been.


  1. National History Museum, Available here:
  2. Discovery Magazine, Available here:
  3. Science Organization, Available here:
  4. Bio One, Available here:

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