These Behemoths Once Prowled and Feasted Across Iowa (Very Slowly)
Nope, not cows, pigs, horses, chickens, goats or any other farm animal.
Sloths. Giant Sloths.
This isn't a joke. According to mnh.uiowa.edu, "When the glaciers melted back some 12,500 years ago, a change in climate occurred. Many Ice Age mammals moved farther north, like the musk ox and reindeer, or they became extinct, like the mammoth."
The Giant Ice Age Sloth, or Megalonyx jeffersonii, was amongst the creatures that made the trek north, and thus, ultimately reached the state of Iowa. This pre-historic species was given its scientific name after a famous giant claw was discovered in 1796 and sent to then-vice president, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was the first to write about the discovery in a scientific paper and hypothesized the giant claw belonged to a oversized extinct species of lion.
According to lewis-clark.org, "What made the animal so distinct from anything then known was, first, its long limb bones and the presence of a vicious claw; and second, they were far larger than any bones then known from comparable, living animals—lions, tigers, and panthers, for example. From the characteristic claw Jefferson gave the animal a name: 'It's [sic] bulk entitles it to give to our animal the name of the Great-claw, or Megalonyx.'"
Its claws weren't the only large feature of this mega-fauna species, though. The giant sloth stood nearly ten feet tall and weighed 2 to 3 tons -- as much as a small elephant.
Here's a very unprofessional video taken of the giant sloth at the University of Iowa's Natural History Museum:
The site, mnh.uiowa.edu, continues: "It grazed Iowa's woodland during a geologic period called the Pleistocene when huge glaciers of ice covered most of Iowa. Sloths were herbivores who used their claws for food gathering, defense, and possibly to climb trees. They became extinct about 9,500 years ago, along with mammoths, giant beavers, camels, and many other large ice age mammals living in Iowa. Besides the climate change, early Paleoindians may have hastened the sloth's demise since they would have found the huge, sluggish creature an easy prey."
The first fossilized remains of the mammal were discovered in 2001 here in the Hawkeye State, while a juvenile's were was later unearthed in 2006.
Forrest Galante, an international wildlife adventurer and conservationist and the host of "Extinct of Alive" on The Animal Planet joined the Joe Rogan Experience to discuss the possibility of the creatures still being alive:
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