In Argentina's coastal city Mar del Plata, a paleontologist discovered a giant ground sloth fossil while digging and cleaning a well in his property.
Carlos Menduga unearthed some ribs, vertebrae, skull, and other fossilized remains of a giant ground sloth believed to be from the pre-historic era. According to representatives from the Lorenzo Scaglia Natural History Museum the fossils were found by Manduga as he was tending to a well in his house in Mar del Plata, which is situated about 249 miles south of Buenos Aires.
"The paleontological remains are about 500,000 years old and are of a scelidotherium leptocephalum, a giant ground sloth," confirmed museum director Analia Veron.
The giant ground sloth is a creature with claws so huge it can dig up deep tunnels measuring over a meter wide and as long as dozens of meters. These tunnels were so massive that real cities underground can be fashioned out of them.
The giant ground sloth has long succumbed to extinction, no thanks to be being overly hunted by humans and climate change around 8,000 years ago.
Finding giant ground sloth fossils is actually common but Manduga's discovery deserves merit because it features a skull with teeth, allowing researchers to learn more or nearly everything about the creature's DNA.
The first of the fossils found of giant ground sloths was credited to Charles Darwin. He discovered them in Bahia Blanca, a city within the Buenos Aires province, during his trips on the HMS Beagle to southern Argentina in 1833 and 1835.
The Scelidotherium is a giant ground sloth genus endemic to South America, thriving during the middle Pleistocene epoch. It lived 780,000 to 11,000 years ago, existing for about 0.67 million years.
Characterized by elongated, anteater-like heads, the giant ground sloth is almost exclusively known to be from Argentina, but some fossils have also been discovered in Uruguay and Paraguay.
When Darwin reported his discovery of an almost-perfect fossil of a Scelidotherium, he associated it with the Megatherium. He was corrected though by Richard Owen who recognized the remains to be that of the Scelidotherium.
Scelidotherium means "femur beast," a reference to the distinct proportions shown by the skeletal remains where the giant ground sloth is estimated to be 3.6 feet tall and weighed 6,000 lbs.