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Prehistoric Sloth Hunting

May 1, 2018

Footprints reveal an encounter between human hunters and the now extinct giant ground sloth.

Transcript

Reconstruction based on the fossil footprint evidence showing how human hunters stalked giant ground sloth. (Alex McClelland/Bournemouth University)

Reconstruction based on the fossil footprint evidence showing how human hunters stalked giant ground sloth. (Alex McClelland/Bournemouth University)

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Prehistoric big game hunting. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A giant ground sloth rears up and brandishes its enormous claws at a hunter who dances forward to attack it. This dramatic story is written in newly discovered footprints in White Sands, New Mexico, according to Bournemouth University anthropologist Matthew Bennett and his colleagues, writing in the journal Science Advances.

MATTHEW BENNETT (Bournemouth University):

Understanding the way in which our ancestors might have tackled big prey, and the fact that they did is quite interesting, because a big animal like that would have come with huge amounts of risk.

HIRSHON:

He says the footprints are between ten and fifteen thousand years old. Bennett says this is additional evidence showing that prehistoric North Americans hunted big game, like sloths and mammoths, and played a key role in the extinction of most large mammals in North America.  I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon