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Megatherium

Cold, dry plains

Megatherium as seen in "Walking with Beasts"

The other contender for the being the mightiest was Megatherium, a giant ground sloth the size of an elephant. They were six meters long from nose to tail and weighed almost four tons. They were forest dwellers that ate mostly leaves, but probably supplemented their diet with occasional carrion. They had huge claws which forced them to walk on the sides of their feet, like modern anteaters. Their tail was thick and muscular and allowed them to walk on their hind legs. They would stand upright, using their tail to form a tripod and then hook down branches with their long arms and foot-long front claws. Their deep jaw suggests that they had a long tongue, with which they could then pull down the leaves into their mouth. They also had little bony outgrowths on their skin, which made their skin like chain-mail. Their size, build and strength made them close to indestructible! They also outlived most other spectacular ancient animals and it is believed that they roamed the forests of South America up to only 8000 years ago. Some well preserved bones, skin and dung have been found in caves in Patagonia. Fossils have been found in South and North America. (33)