27,000-Year-Old Massive Sloth Fossil Found Under Water

The sloth tooth fossil provides a look back in time.

Three-Toed Sloth, Amazon, Brazil, South America (Photo by Hoberman Collection/UIG via Getty Images)
UIG via Getty Images

A fossil belonging to a giant sloth that roamed the Earth some 27,000 years ago was discovered in Cara Blanca, Belize. Now, several years after the 2014 discovery, researchers say the fossil is like a climate time capsule of what it was like when the sloth was alive.

According to CNN, using microscopic technology, scientists were able to extract tissue from the tooth that had not completely fossilized.

“This allowed us to trace monthly and seasonal changes in the sloth’s diet and climate for the first time, and also to select the best part of the tooth for reliable radiocarbon dating,” Stanley Ambrose, the study author and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign anthropology professor, said in a statement.

The last year of the sloth’s life on Earth was a rough one- drought and a seven-month dry season began and ended with a wet season. The giant sloth wasn’t lumbering around the rainforest either. At the time, Belize was a grassland savanna.

The study’s findings “add to the evidence that many factors, in addition to a changing climate, contributed to the extinction of megafauna in the Americas,” Lisa Lucero, a co-author explained. “One of those potential factors is the arrival of humans on the scene 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.”

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