Scientists have discovered fossil footprints that may prove ancient humans faced off with a giant sloth. The sloths once stood around six-feet-tall and lived until about 11,000-years-ago. Researchers believe humans over-hunted them, resulting in their extinction. Now they’ve found fossilized footprints that may prove such attacks happened. They were found in the salt flats of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico.
Scientists say the human footprints suggest they had been walking in the exact footprints of the sloth, and confronting it.
“The story that we can read from the tracks is that the humans were stalking; following in the footsteps, precisely in the footsteps of the sloth,” says team member Matthew Bennett. “While it was being distracted and turning, somebody else would come across and try and deliver the killer blow. It’s an interesting story and it’s all written in the footprints.”
Scientists believe these new findings are important to understanding how routine these type of things were for the ancients.
- Scientists note the “flailing circles,” which indicate the sloth had been standing on its hind legs to swing its forelegs in defense. They also found additional human footprints farther from the site, which imply the humans sort of "ganged up" on the animal.
- Researchers believe that where there are flailing circles, the sloths were most likely evading humans. They’d otherwise walk in straight lines.