Weighing almost a much as an elephant, Megatherium must have been one of the most impressive animals to walk the Earth.
Meaning of scientific name
Pronunciation of scientific name
Up to 6m long, weighing around 3.8 tonnes.
Megatherium was a massive ground sloth, covered in long dark hair. It had huge claws, and could walk on its hind legs rather like a bear.
The South American species is known from many skeletons, sets of fossilised footprints and even dung and hair. Finds have come from as far north as Texas and as far south as Argentina.
They inhabited woodlands and grasslands.
Megatherium are herbivorous. They mainly browsed vegetation but possibly scavenged meat too.
Megatherium is thought to have been a herbivore, although there have been suggestions that its long claws and very strong forelimbs may have allowed it to scavenge meat, or even kill animals such as glyptodonts. Fossilised footprints show that it often walked on its hind legs, although there is much debate as to what it looked like when it did.
They lived 1.9 million - 8,000 years ago. The ground sloths are members of the South American group the Xenarthra, which contains modern tree sloths, anteaters and armadillos as well as the extinct glyptodonts.
Best place to see
Natural History Museum; Oxford University Museum of Natural History; Hunterian Museum, Glasgow; Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences; Royal Museum & Museum of Scotland; New Walk Museum; Sheffield City Museum & Mappin Art Gallery; Booth Museum of Natural History
A relative of the tree sloths (and also armadillos and anteaters).