Showing posts with label South America.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South America.. 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.

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.

Proborhyaena gigantea o marsupial Bear.

Image from

Until recently, the largest marsupial carnivore position was occupied by the Lion carnifex marsupial or Thylacoleo reaching measures similar to those of a lioness taking anabolic. But the new number one, the largest carnivorous marsupial, is now the marsupial Bear  or Proborhyaena gigantea. An animal that if we compared the marsupial lion with a lioness; we can compare the marsupial Bear with a grizzly bear ... perhaps hence the name ... (although his jaw broken bones as the hyena, that is also related to its name).

The Proborhyena could weigh up to 1100 lb (500 kg) and 10,5 ft. (3.5 meters) long, it was not very agile, but it was quick and short but explosive career, typical of large and heavy hunters. It was a carnivore with a peculiar teeth: its fangs were projected forward and also would not stop growing. This is complemented with robust skull, 60 cm long, and a powerful and muscular neck. So it is easy to imagine that when the marsupial bear biting their prey hardly escaped. It was like a pittbull but 40 times bigger.

Image from

Although some experts believe that usually, this prehistoric predator rather than hunt, began to steal prey from other predators (size permitting). And thanks to the wear of the teeth, experts have concluded that it was dedicated to crushing bones to eat: from animals hunted either carrion than it could take. The denture reminds Tasmanian devils now living today.

Taxonomically, is related to the Thylacosmilus, which we'll talk another day. It lived from the Eocene to the Oligocene in South America.

Brontornis burmeisteri

A fearsome carnivorous birds and greatest of all time was the Brontornis burmeisteri. A flightless bird belonging to the subfamily Brontornithinae, which rivals the size of titanium-prehistoric other birds such as the family of Phorusrhacidae (known as "Terror Bird") or other more current and Dromornis (known as the "elephant bird").

The Brontornis burmeisteri was first introduced in the subfamily of "Terror Bird" and it is because their physical characteristics were similar for its large size and predatory lifestyle, and more specifically introduced in the subfamily Brontornithinae that contained very large and stout forms.

Had a height of almost 3 meters and its weight could reach 500 kg. He had some strong legs, able to tear the skins of their prey with a single blow. To get an idea: we can look at the Cassowary bird-like prehistoric currently living in Australia and New Guinea and is able to kill people with their claws. It measures half a burmeisteri Brontornis and herbivore.
The prehistoric bird lived in what is now called the Patagonia (South America). Due to the volume, is likely to have a lifestyle between an ambush predator and prey actively chasing, jumping on her and shot down by the strike force after a short chase.
Was the dominant carnivore during the Miocene Patagonia, being able to kill even large animals like elephants and the predator Thylacosmilus Astrapotherium (a saber-toothed marsupial).

Simply fascinating.


Inside family of animals Pliosauridae are as terrible as the Liopleurodon or Predator X, marine predators of enormous size with huge heads and huge teeth. Within this group, the third in size (not so small) was the Kronosaurus. Its name means "the lizard of Cronos" (Cronos in Greek mythology was the leader of the Titans).

The Kronosaurus came to measure up to 12 meters (40 feets) and weigh 15 tons. To give you an idea: a whale comes as much up to 9 meters long (30 feets) and at most 6 tons. Another comparison: the skull of a whale "only" is 1.5 meters (5 feets), in contrast, had a skull Kronosaurus 2.7 meters (10 feets) ... Few carnivores were these dimensions and these weapons so deadly.The Kronosaurus had long, sharp teeth, not serrated. Peculiar and distinctive teeth that have made ​​it easier to differentiate between fossils and they are of a Liopleurodon or Kronosaurus.
The Kronosaurus was probably the apex predator of the time. No other animal could stand against him and had to flee if they did not become their prey. Have even found fossilized skeletons of the long Elasmosaurus, a predator of 14 meters.
Fortunately for the Kronosaurus, during the time he lived, Lower Cretaceous, there were his cousins ​​Liopleurodon or Predator X, who disappeared for more than 50 million years before the appearance of Kronosaurus.
Finally, the Kronosaurus, lived in the prehistoric waters which now include Australia and South America.

Abelisaurus or Abel's lizard

At the end of the Cretaceous period in what is now South America, approximately between 83 and lived 80 million years ago the "Abel's lizard" or Abelisaurus. With a skull up to a meter and sharp teeth this carnivorous predator of between 7 and 9 meters (25 to 30 feet)long and weighed about 3000 kilograms, were living with other predators such as known Tyrannotitan or Carnotauros, fierce competitors for the same prey as old tyrannotitanes patients. The Carnotaurus, was probably a abelisaurid early, scientists assume that Abelisaurus also had front legs short and slender limbs.

The discovery of Abelisaurus is important because it sheds light on many theropods (carnivorous diet and walking biped with three fingers to the front and provided with sharp claws) than the southern hemisphere that were very different from their relatives in the northern hemisphere. This was the result of the separation of land masses of North and South that began in the Jurassic period.
Not go into the morphological differences ... anyone who wants to know them I invite you to search Wikipedia.

Macrauchenia ( Macrauchenia patachonica. )

The Macrauchenia is an extinct mammal with a body of a camel and a short trunk, reaching two and three meters long. (9.8 ft) with 1500 Kg of weight. Dwelt on the plains of South America in the Tertiary and Quaternary disappearing more than 8500 years ago. Despite having long-legged three-toed ungulate is unlikely to run at high speed due in part to the robust frame of body and hind legs that were shorter than the front. Age of herbivorous, eating in areas where I spent most of his time as swamps and grazing, provided him with his prehensile lip boot pastures. Its fur was short, similar to that of a modern horse. He had a trunk like they were today tapirs.
Contact with the men contributed to their extinction, as hunters have taken advantage of its low travel speed to kill and eat.

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.
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