New Fossilized Tracks Show Early Humans As Giant Sloth Hunters

Samuel Reason | April 26th, 2018

It seems like 11,000 years ago the giant sloth was being hunted by early humans, or at least they were definitely being stalked. Whichever route or path the giant sloth decided to take well a large group of humans would be in pursuit, even stepping directly onto their giant paw prints. The giant sloth was a huge bigfoot-like creature that is now extinct.

Were the humans looking to hunt them as prey, or were they just extremely curious by this big beast? It seems extremely unlikely the humans would have been able to kill such a beast with stone weapons, the giant sloth would have been a formidable adversary. Standing well over 2 meters tall and equipped with sharp sickle-like claws, this animal would not have gone done easy. Sloths are very muscular and it would have been extremely difficult to overpower them, with their long arms they would have had a distinct advantage at close quarters.

In April 2017, researchers found fossilized prints in the sands of New Mexico’s Monument Park, these prints showed giant ground sloths being followed by humans. Some of the human prints were even found inside the sloth’s prints, meaning these ancient humans were following the ground sloths while their prints were still raw in the mud. And then at one point, the sloth’s tracks seem to indicate he rose up and flailed his arms, maybe telling the humans to go away? There is a debate about if humans lead to their extinction or if it was due to climate change, most likely it was a bit of both that doomed these giant snow walkers.

There is an idea that humans were just curious about the creature, but most likely they followed them to distract them as a hunting strategy. It is important to remember though that most hunts at the time of the hunter-gatherers were not successful, most animals could easily overpower humans using stone weapons. Yet maybe they had an unknown tactic that gave them an edge over the giant sloth. Unfortunately, this is something that we just may never know! But it definitely is an interesting look at the interactions of early humans and giant ground sloths.

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