In northern California, paleontologist William Sinclair is believed to identified nothrotheriops shastensis fossils during an exploration at Potter Creek Cave. These first identified fossils included a incomplete mandibular ramus, 14 molars, and a few other bits and pieces. They were sent to the university of California museum of Paleontology giving us the name and statistics you see today.
Fossil remains of nothrotheriops shastensis have also been found in Anza-Borrego Desert, Rancho La Brea, and Del Mar. Fossilized remains of the genus nothrotheriops (not identified as to species) have also been found in National City and Sonora, Mexico. It is believed nothrotheriops shastensis evolved in south America around 35 million years ago, and migrated into north America, starting around 8 million years ago. Wow. That’s a lot.
Did you know? Fossils of sloths in caves are somewhat a unknown. Some scientists have proposed that the caves were used as nurseries, since fossils from juvenile sloths have been found there. Yet another theory suggests that sloths used caves as a source for special minerals in their diets. Like iron, calcium, or? Even scientists have purposed sloths getting stuck in caves or defending themselves from envious smilodon, scimitar, mountain bear, or group of dire wolf or lions.
In the 1930s, large amounts of Shasta ground sloth were discovered in La Brae’s tar pits. As indicated by the tons and tons of fossils. It probably attracted many other predators and friends there. Almost all Shasta ground sloths remains have been found in the west. Especially in the American southwest.
Description, build and size:
250 kilograms (551 lb) in weight. About 2.75 metres (or 9.0 ft) from snout to tail tip length.
Current living relatives include the tree sloths, and more distantly the anteaters, and armadillos.
Did you know? Large hyoid bones in some sloths’ throats suggest that some may have had well-developed, prehensile tongues similar to that of a giraffe, that aided in feeding.
Nothrotheriops behaved like all typical ground sloths of north and south America. Feeding on various plants like the desert globemallow, cacti, yucca, agaves, Joshua trees, and mesquite. It was hunted by various local predators, dire wolves and Smilodon, from which the sloths may have defended themselves by standing upright on hindlegs and tail and swiping with their long foreclaws.
Did you know? The Shasta ground sloth is believed to have played an important role in the dispersal of yucca brevifolia, or Joshua tree seeds. Preserved dung belonging to the sloth has been found to contain Joshua tree leaves and seeds, confirming that they fed on the trees. Scientists suggest that the lack of Shasta ground sloths aiding to disperse the seeds to more favourable climates is causing the trees to decline.
Additionally, in the southwest of north America, there is an assortment 6-8 areas including caves around 11,000 years ago, with evidence of nothrotheiops shastensis. The best known specimen of Shasta ground sloth is from a lava tube in Aden crater, New Mexico. Its body was found with hair and tendon still preserved. This nearly complete specimen is on display at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut. Lets here it for the Shasta ground sloth nothrotheriops shastensis.
Bibliography: Lull, S. 1929. A remarkable ground sloth. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of Yale University, 3: 1-39.
Sinclair, W. J. (1905). New mammalia from the Quaternary caves of California. University of California Press.
Akersten, W. A.; McDonald, H. G. (June 1991). “Nothrotheriops from the Pleistocene of Oklahoma and Paleogeography of the Genus”. The Southwestern Naturalist. 36 (2): 178–185. doi:10.2307/3671918. JSTOR3671918.