World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Mylodon

Mylodon
Temporal range: Pleistocene to Holocene
Lower jaw at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Xenarthra
Order: Pilosa
Family: Mylodontidae
Subfamily: Mylodontinae
Genus: Mylodon
Owen, 1840
Species: M. darwini

Mylodon is an extinct genus of giant ground sloth that lived in the Patagonia area of South America until roughly 10,000 years ago.

Contents

  • Taxonomy 1
  • Description 2
  • Paleobiology 3
  • Discovery 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Taxonomy

Fur and skin at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

Mylodon's close relatives include the giant ground sloths of the genera Glossotherium and Paramylodon. The latter genus has often been confused with Glossotherium but Paramylodon is a distinct genus that was restricted to the Pleistocene of North America.[1] Glossotherium also shares a long history of taxonomic confusion with Mylodon, and currently the only recognized species is Mylodon darwinii. At one time, the elephant-sized Megatherium was thought to be closely related, but is recognized as belonging to a separate family (Megatheriidae).

Description

Mylodon weighed about 2,500 kilograms (5,500 lb) and stood up to 3 m (10 ft) tall when raised up on its hind legs. It had very thick hide and had osteoderms within its skin for added armor. Because of this armor and its long and sharp claws, it is unlikely that the Mylodon had any natural enemies other than humans, who would have still found the skin difficult to pierce with stone projectile points.

Paleobiology

Model in Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument where fossils were found in 1896

Mylodon has been traditionally considered a grazer in open areas, which is theorized based on its paleoenvironment as well as from the vegetation found in fossilized dung. However, recent studies based on biomechanics and functional morphology indicate that Mylodon may have been a mixed or selective-feeder instead, and the paleoenvironment of the formation where the animal was found indicates a wide variety of vegetation to be selected from.

A variety of specimens found throughout Argentina and Chile indicate that Mylodon had a wide range of climatic and environmental tolerance. It was probably capable of inhabiting arid to semiarid and cold climates, humid and warm climates, and colder and montane climates.[2]

Discovery

Toe nails, dung and skin, Natural History Museum, London

At several sites preserved hide and dung have been discovered, and are in such a state of conservation that the people who first discovered them believed they belonged to a living animal instead of an extinct species. Mylodon was named by Richard Owen on the basis of a nearly complete lower jaw with teeth, which was found by Charles Darwin in a consolidated gravel cliff at Bahía Blanca, during the survey expedition of HMS Beagle.[3]

Well preserved samples of Mylodon remains have been discovered in the Cueva del Milodón site in Patagonia, Chile along the southern flank of Cerro Benítez in the year 1896. Associated with bones of other early Patagonian animals, these remains of Mylodon date from an era earlier than 10,000 BC.[4]

The discovery of fresh looking samples of skin and dung sparked a small wave of expeditions during the early 20th century to search for a living example of the animal.[5] The samples have since been found to be around 10,000 years old, although they look fresh because of the extreme cold and stable conditions in the caves in which they were found.

References

  1. ^ McAfee, R.K. (2007). Reassessing the Taxonomy and Affinities of the Myodontinae sloths, Glossotherium and Paramylodon (Mammalia: Xenarthra: Tardigrada). Ph.D. Dissertation, Northern Illinois University.
  2. ^ Diego Brandoni, Brenda S. Ferrero and Ernesto Brunetto. Mylodon darwini Owen (Xenarthra, Mylodontinae) from the Late Pleistocene of Mesopotamia, Argentina, with Remarks on Individual Variability, Paleobiology, Paleobiogeography, and Paleoenvironment. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(5):1547-1558. 2010 doi:10.1080/02724634.2010.501449 September 2010.
  3. ^ R. Owen (1840). Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle. Part 1, Fossil Mammalia. Pp. 63-73.
  4. ^ , Megalithic PortalCueva del MilodonC. MICHAEL HOGAN (2008)
  5. ^ "PATAGONIA; Hesketh-Prichard's Stirring Tale of Exploration in the Far South". The New York Times. 20 December 1902. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 

External links

  • www.sloth-world.org - Sloth World - an online bibliography
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.