Showing posts with label Pliocene. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pliocene. Show all posts


The most famous of the Sloths, we all know more or less, is the Megatherium. A ground sloth sturdy-looking, with more than 3000 kg (6.600 lb) . But there is another Sloths, thalassocnus, which has the peculiarity of being prehistoric and water.

The thalassocnus moved slowly and peaceful, sometimes snorkelling hunting dangerous algae and mosses with bladed teeth.

Like the Megatherium, the thalassocnus also had big, strong arms, but not to grab the branches of trees, but to cling to the seafloor, holding well to the underwater rocks while feeding.

This Sloths was not as big or heavy as its cousin the prehistoric ground sloth, in fact, could be bigger for being aquatic as it can better withstand the weight ... but no. The thalassocnus could measure about 2 meters long (40 ft.), and weighs 120 kg (264 lb.). Sometimes he could leave the water and feed on land plants, but not a large as its cousin, it could easily fall prey to predators such as Sparassodonta or Amphicyon.

Anyway, you do not think that it is rare to see a sloth in the water. Sometimes, amazon overflows, and the only way to move from tree to tree is swimming. Here you can see a sloths, swimming ... it does very well.

It existed between the Miocene and Pliocene (between 25,000 and 2.5 million years ago) in what is now known as South America.


I'm surprised that after writing more than 200 prehistoric animals, we still have not spoken of Megatherium, prehistoric animal that existed until 8000 years ago and, a

The Megatherium was a big herbivore, like a Sloth of the currently but giant. As a the sloths current, the Megatherium also eat the foliage. But the latter did not climb into the branches, mostly because it weighed over 5 tons (imagine an elephant up to the branch of a baobab, the same impression as the Megatherium would see in a tree). As measured 6 meters and stood on two legs reached the treetops and branches pulled down with their huge claws. Lately, is considering the option that it was an omnivorous animal, and also eating tons of leaves and branches, ever eat carrion or some unsuspecting animal ... because seeing how robust your bones and weight of this animal, we can not say it was a hunter agile, stealthy and fast.

This prehistoric animal was so large that a healthy individual was not able to kill any predator. Maybe some guy old, young or injured could fall prey to a group of giant hyenas, wolves, saber tooth or some Arctodus or cave bear.

The Megatherium, appeared on Earth 3 million years ago between the Pliocene and Pleistocene and disappeared 8,000 years ago in Central and South America. It is believed that the main cause of their extinction was the proliferation of a dangerous animal, a predator insatiable .... I speak human being.

In this video we will see that this prehistoric animal was not as shy as its relative the current lazy ...

What you do not know what is below. ????

 Well, it is a cave that was excavated by a megaterio and served as den / shelter . This in particular is about 200 m long and was excavated about 20,000 years ago .

Thylacosmilus and curious history.

When there are two animals that are very similar in weight, size, physical characteristics and occupying the same ecological niche but living in different places and have a different origin, we call this phenomenon convergent evolution. An example would be that we can illustrate the flight of pterodactyls and bats, both fly in a similar way but come from families, genera and different orders.

Well, now let's focus on the case of Thylacosmilus ... if we saw in reality, across the road in front of our house, we might seem an early saber-toothed, a prehistoric Smilodon... But although its appearance was similar, their underclass, order, family, are different Sabertooth Tiger. The Thylacosmilus had nothing to do with the Smilodon, was actually a marsupial and even looked like Sabretooth, was evolutionarily closer to that of a kangaroo Sabretooth we know.

This prehistoric animal appeared in South America about 7 million years ago, when it was an island that was separate from North America. It was stocky, though not enough the Smilodon, as large as the current Cougars and had fangs shaped knives about 15 cm, but unlike the Smilodon, Thylacosmilus fangs did not stop growing. In addition, the fangs are embedded in a cavity having the jaw bone and giving it a very peculiar appearance to its skull. In fact, its name means "pouch saber", referring to this feature.
Possibly be true that were the apex predator in South America, but this lasted until which lasted insulation island continent. This occurred in the late Pliocene and Central America new species were introduced from the north, including a saber-toothed cat but also bigger, more corpulent and willing to put at the top of the food chain. The Thylacosmilus rival, the known Smilodon, had arrived and soon took the place of the predator.

Sabertoothed vs Cave lion

At the end, when I put the title, I opted for the most striking title, but my intention was to title this entry: "Cave Lion, Sabretooth and Isthmus of Panama" ... for being this last element would change the configuration of these super-predators who lived North and South America. Let me explain.

Now, to get into this exciting evolutionary battle, we must consider two things:

1 - Today, the largest cat is the Siberian Tiger ... to about 105 cm and 220 kg.

2 - South and North America were cut off, separated by an ocean, and different species living in each of the old continent.

When in one place and at the same time coincide two similar species with similar characteristics and common prey, one of the two species usually be favored over the other. The species "loser" or disappears or should look other prey in other ecological niches that are not exploited by the species "winner". This, over the years can promote morphological changes occur in the species "loser" and then, the two species are no longer rivals to specialize each in their prey and their characteristics.

Well, this I had to tell you that you may understand better what happened between these two species: American cave lion (Panthera leo atrox) and the saber-toothed tiger (Similodon).

In the Pleistocene, there were these two species. The cave lion was king. It was clever, powerful, with a strong bite and we could say it was the super-predator. It weighed about 360 kg - 400 kg and no other animals, such as wolves, bears or other feline, was able to intimidate it. In fact, in its name we can appreciate the sentiment that created to its discoverers, atrox means terrible.

Then we have the second best, it was the saber tooth tiger (Smilodon fatalis), not that it was small. It was quite large and robust enough, maybe a little less intelligent and less social life. It weighed about 280 kg, so we could say that weighed the same as a Siberian tiger overweight ... but that does not exist in nature.

The cave lion weighed fourth part the sabertooth. And with that weight, this old lion, keeping at bay potential sabertooth. It would be like the African lion and leopard. The saber-tooth (as leopard) had to settle for smaller prey with other predators steal them and take care that they are not stolen and ultimately ... was content to be in the shadow of the Great Cave Lion .... But this did not last long ... the Sabretooth had his opportunity and took it.

In the mid-Pleistocene and in a process that lasted hundreds of years, North America joined with the south, forming what we known today as the Isthmus of Panama. This event is one of the most important, geologically speaking, of which have occurred in the last 60 million years. Varied weather gave way to global and fauna from north to south, and vice versa ... is called the Great American Interchange.

The first cross was the Smilodon fatalis. Over time and thanks to the lack of predators (thought) evolved a new species called Smilodon populator a kind to settle at the top of the food pyramid, a prehistoric beast weighing 450 kg, more robust and larger than not only its relative the Smilodon fatalis, but also that their "oppressor" of the north, the Cave Lion North America.

Two species maintained their reigns until a few thousand years ago, our ancestors probably met them, and some were killed in confrontations with these powerful animals: The Lion cave in the north and Sabretooth in the south.

Hyena giant or Pachycrocuta Brevirostris.

Famous is the force that have the jaws of the hyenas that can reach pressures of 350 kg (600lb)and teeth grinding of hard bones and teeth and hooves. Well, now imagine a hyena twice as big, twice as strong and a powerful jaw twice ... this animal there was Pachycrocuta brevirostris.

Pachycrocuta a genus of prehistoric hyenas. The largest specimen, well-documented part of the species of giant hyenas Pachycrocuta brevirostris. With a height of 1 meter (39 in) and weigh up to 120 kg (250 lb).Un similar in size to a small lioness.
This size would make it the largest of the hyenas that have ever lived. He lived from the Middle Pliocene and Middle Pleistocene, about 3 million and 500,000 years ago.
Found fossils in Eurasia and southern and eastern Africa. In dens, caves used as dens.
Scavenger and a predator could be stubborn and tenacious to deer hunting big and small package was probably a hunter of large animals (up to larger deer and occasionally as Megaloceros). The chance of a scavenger is sensed it was a very big animal not built for chasing prey over long distances. In this aspect would have differed from today spotted hyena, which is a more agile animal that, contrary to his image of the documentaries, also kills his own food. Apparently it was ecologically close enough to the smaller (but still important) in relation perrieri Pliocrocuta never found as fossils contemporaries in the same region.

This is a very beautiful reconstruction extracted

Josephoartigasia monesi

Josephoartigasia monesi was a giant prehistoric rodent from the Pliocene, the largest known to date. It is estimated that between four and lived two million years in what is now Uruguay. It is an extinct species of rodent and as said the largest rodent in history.

The species measured approximately 3 m long and 1.5 m high. In life they were about the size of a car. Their incisors were more than 30 cm long. The animal weighed about a ton, and fed on soft grasses.

The fossil (the skull), more than half a meter, it belonged to a species closely related to the current hamsters, and found the first skull of an animal that was known to have existed but over which he had of remains found.

Among their predators can find the cave lion and Smilodon.


The glyptodon, always connected with existing armadillos, a native of America. The glyptodon measured about 3 m and weighed about 1.4 t, being equivalent in size and shape to a Volkswagen Beetle. It was a herbivore and, by its constitution, it is assumed that it was not very agile. His defense against predators was based on its rigid shell. Different species are distinguished by different types of shells. Many of these shells remained empty throughout the plains of Uruguay and Argentina will likely serve as a refuge for early humans in the region.

The glyptodon is part of the group of placental mammals known as Xenarthra. This order of mammals includes armadillos, as well as several extinct species.

The glyptodon emerged in the Pliocene in South America, migrating north after, when the Isthmus of Panama joined the Americas. It is believed that they were hunted by human populations in their environment, to use the carcasses of dead animals as a refuge from hostile environments. Became extinct about 10,000 to 8,500 years.

The glyptodontes oldest known lived in the early Tertiary and were not very large. After appearing species were becoming larger, until in the Quaternary, when there were also megatherium, there were real giants who roamed in what is now Patagonia Argentina. They had a great half-shell shaped eggshell consists of many hexagonal shaped plates, round, etc.., He was locked below the animal's body with a sturdy skeleton, had a long tail, some species, finished off with barbed thick and compact.

Elasmotherium and the origen of unicorn

Elasmotherium ("Thin Plate Beast") was a genus of giant rhinoceros which stood, on average, 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) high and 6 metres (20 ft) long, with a single two-meter-long horn in the forehead. The animal may have weighed up to 5 tonnes (5.5 short tons). Its legs were longer than those of other rhinos and were designed for galloping, giving it a horse-like gait. It was probably a fast runner, in spite of its size. Its teeth were similar to those of horses, and it probably grazed low herbs.

The genus appeared during the Late Pliocene in Central Asia, being derived from the genus Sinotherium. E. inexpectatum and E. peii inhabited Eastern China during the Upper Pliocene to Early Pleistocene. They disappeared approximately 1.6 Ma.

Morphological peculiarities of elasmotherians have generated two main hypotheses concerning their appearance and the character of their habitat. The first, most widely accepted view[citation needed] which was also described above, portrays them as large woolly animals with a large forehead horn that thrived on an open steppe. Fossils of the horn, however, have not been found. The other view[citation needed] assigns elasmotherians to riparian biotopes. It is probable that elasmotherians dwelt in both riparian and steppe biotope[citation needed]. The riparian biotope is suggested by dental and skull morphology. The combination of such characteristics as the absence of canines and strongly developed lateral processes of the atlas implies lateral movements of the head, presumably for grasping grass. The hypsodont dentition indicates presence of mineral grains in the food. Such food could be obtained by pulling out dense plants from the moist soil. These conditions are typical for riparian biotopes. On the other hand, a steppe biotope is indicated by their rather long and slender limbs, which would have served well for creatures grazing over vast areas.

It is believed that Elasmotherium died out in prehistoric times. However, according to science writer and cryptozoologist Willy Ley, the animal may have survived long enough to be remembered in the legends of the Evenk people of Russia as a huge black bull with a single horn in the forehead.

There is also a testimony by the medieval traveller Ibn Fadlan which has been interpreted by some[who?] to indicate that Elasmotherium may have survived into historical times.

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