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Fossil of Ancient Giant Sloth Discovered in Underwater Cave on Yucatan Peninsula

Elana Glowatz - International Business Times
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August 17, 2017
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Ancient species of giant sloth discovered in Mexico (CGTN)

Mexican scientists have discovered a new giant sloth species that lived about 12,000 years ago, after coming upon its fossilized remains at the bottom of a sinkhole.

According to the National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH for short, archaeologists have managed to collect some of the bones lying about 165 to 180 feet down in the water-filled pit, including the skull and jaw, some vertebrae, ribs and claws, as well as a few long bones. But others remain down there. The team hopes to bring them to the surface in the near future.

The scientists have named the extinct sloth — which belongs to a new genus as well as a new species — Xibalbaonyx oviceps after the cave-related Mayan underworld Xibalba; the Greek word for claws, “onyx,” because of that defensive feature common to sloths; and the Latin word “ovum” to refer to its egg-shaped skull.

Collecting more bones will give the scientists more information about what the giant sloth was like while it was alive, including its size, but for now the INAH has reported that this particular animal lived between 10,647 BCE and 10,305 BCE.

The sinkhole, known in Mexico as a cenote, where the giant sloth was found is located in the state Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula in the southeastern part of the country. That state is most well-known for the resort city Cancún and for its huge network of underwater caves.

Read the rest at International Business Times


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