Eremotherium, ἔρημος “steppe or desert” and θηρίον, or “beast” was an extinct giant ground sloth from the family megatheriidae.

Characteristic of Eremotherium was its robust physique with comparatively long limbs. Front and hind feets especially representative three fingers.
However, the skull is relatively gracile, teeth were uniform and high-crowned. Like today’s sloths, Eremotherium was purely herbivorous and probably a mixed feeder dining on leaves and grasses. Belonged to the family Megatheriidae, which includes several other extinct giant ground sloths. They had a slow-moving, slothful lifestyle. Their large size, robust limbs and movement suggest they were adapted for protection, and a semi-fossorial (partially burrowing) existence.

Here are some more detailed information
It was found in southern parts of north American and northern parts of south America.
There are two species: Eremotherium laurillardi and E. eomigrans.
Around 1842, famous danish pleistocene/holocene archeologist, Peter Wilhelm Lund collected a tooth of juvenile sloth. That individual had been collected from Pleistocene deposits around Lagoa Santa, Brazil, in caves. Alongside fossils of thousands of other megafauna. Lund originally named it as a species of its relative Megatherium. Though Austrian paleontologist Franz Spillman later created the Eremotherium genus name. After noticing its distinctness from other megatheriids.
About 10,000 years ago they went extinct.

Did you know? “Steppe desert beasts” bones and remains are found in only 130 sites worldwide.
Both genera reached the size of today’s elephants and were among the largest mammals in the Americas.

Areas found and range
When the range of Eremotherium were described as early as the 1840s and 50s. It was though to include Megatherium. Savannah Georgia scholars had described some of the fossils from Skidaway island from caves and wetlands in the area. These were all described in more detail by Joseph Leidy in 1855, but they were not all referred to Eremotherium until the late 20th century.
From the Pliocene, around 5.3 million years ago, to the end of the Late Pleistocene, around 10,000 years ago. These ‘steppe desert beasts’. Lived in southern North America: Texas, Flordia, Georgia, even Carolinas. Central America, and northern South America.
Finds of Eremotherium are common and widespread, with fossils being found as far north as South Carolina in the United States and as far south as Rio Grande Do Sul. Now many complete skeletons have been unearthed.

Description & Size
Overall length could be close to 20 feet or 6 meters. With a height of 2 meteres (or 6.56 feet). But on its hind legs they could be almost 4 meters. Close to 13 feet. Weight estimates have varied. With a range from 3 to 6.5 tons. Compared to modern sloths this is very large. With stronger, longer limbs; claws and big teeth; as well as, a tail for balancing and strength.

Skulls and Skeletons

The heads have been recorded at 65cm length, 33 cm wide, and about 19cm height (almost 8 inches). They skulls were large but slightly lighter than megatheriums. And, more coned shaped. Its eye socket was shallow, small and slightly lower. And, its forehead line was not as curvey, and nasil bone was shortened.

There are some other differences in the jaw bones (premaxiallry), and, occipital (spine) bone.
Eremotherium had 18 teeth resembling molars. They were quite big at around 21-22cm (8.1-8.7″). They had no roots or enamal. And, they had an ability to keep growing while still grinding lots of food to maintain size. Except for the front ones were different (pic).
By now, these giant creatures skeletons have been formed and genetically sequenced. There vertabraes were massive making the tail look short. But some its greatest strength was here. It’s femar was the largest bone. At 89cm it was neary 1 meter long; and, 45cm wide a half meter wide. Supporting all that weight, tibias too, were also strong.

Most had long claws, formed on there hands and feet. With fingers on digits 3 to 5. The two inners usually fused together with some element of carpus.

Palaeobiology & Locomotion
Like typical sloth stereotypes. Locomotion was rather slow. Eremotherium was able to stand up on its hindlegs. Pulling branches and twigs with its hands, as well as defensive strikes. Its tail has been compared to armadillos and anteaters with vertabrae and different shaped muscles.
(tail pic)
They were unable to perform digging activities like other sloth.
(digging pic)

Social behaviour
Because of finds involving groups of the megafauna. Scientists continually discuss if eremotherium lived in heards, or groups. El Bajion in Chiapas Mexico (pic), groups have been found; or, in Tanque Loma (Santa Elena, Equador). A massive group, of 22 was found. Scientists had even discovered 19 at a sinkhole in Jirau, Brazil. But this is thought to have accumulated. Over a long period of time; by endangerment, fire or, preditor; climate or weather; poisioning. It could have even been temporary. We don’t really know.

Various isotopic analysis on teeth. Show a herbivore diet with combinations of local mixed plants, and grasses. These giant cuddly creatures forged in open landscapes. While also in large closed forests perimeters. Close to scrubs and trees. Its snout, large non enamel teeth, and strong jaw. Had a large total chewing surface. Allowing it to mowe down on large amounts of plants, grasses, scrubs, trees, and foliage.
(pictures of yucca, different small trees, scrubs and plants)
Given its million year plus life span. It is proven the eremotherium could adapt its diet to the respective local and climatic conditions of many regions.

The extinction of Eremotherium and other giant ground sloths is thought to be related to a combination of factors. There dissaprearnece co-incides with others. And, the quaternary extinction event; as well as, climate change and human activities. As climates changed these large herbivores could have struggled with disease or to find enough food. Additionally, human hunting, habitat destruction, likely contributed to their extinction.

Today, Eremotherium is known from its grande fossil remains. Scientists study these bits and pieces to learn more about the biology, behavior, and ecological role of these great timely creatures.

Cástor Cartelle and Gerardo De Iuliis: Eremotherium laurillardi: The Panamerican Late Pleistocene megatheriid sloth. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 15(4), 1995, pp. 830–841 ( online )

Leidy, Joseph (1855). A Memoir on the Extinct Sloth Tribe of North America. Smithsonian Institution.

Hodgson, W. B., & Habersham, J. C. (1846). Memoir on the Megatherium, and Other Extinct Gigantic Quadrupeds of the Coast of Georgia: With Observations on Its Geologic Feature (Vol. 10). Barlett & Welford.

Gillette, David D. (1977). “Catalogue of Type Specimens of Fossil Vertebrates, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia Part VI: Index, Additions, and Corrections”. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 129: 203–211. JSTOR 4064747 (

Hodgson, W. B., & Habersham, J. C. (1846). Memoir on the Megatherium, and Other Extinct Gigantic Quadrupeds of the Coast of Georgia: With Observations on Its Geologic Feature (Vol.10). Barlett & Welford.

Giuseppe Tito: New remains of Eremotherium laurillardi (Lund, 1842) (Megatheriidae, Xenarthra) from the coastal region of Ecuador. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 26, 2008, pp. 424-434

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