Wednesday, 9 November 2016

MEGATHERIUM AMERICANUM





In 1788, this magnificent specimen of a Megatherium sloth was sent to the Royal Cabinet of Natural History from the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata.

The megaterios were large terrestrial sloths belonging to the group, Xenarthra. These herbivores inhabited large ares of land on the American continent. Their powerful skeleton enabled them to stand on their hind legs to reach leaves high in the trees, a huge advantage given the calories needed to be consumed each day to maintain their large size.

In 1788, Bru assembled the skeleton as you see it here. It is exhibited at the Museo Nacional De Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain, in it's original configuration for historic value.

If you look closely, you'll see it is not anatomically correct.

But all good paleontology is teamwork. Based upon the drawings of Juan Bautista Bru, George Cuvier used this specimen to describe the species for the very first time.