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The record of sloth coprolites in North and South America; implications for terminal Pleistocene extinctions

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Authors:Hunt, Adrian P.; Lucas, Spencer G.
Author Affiliations:Primary:
Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum, Everett, WA, United States
Other:
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, United States
Volume Title:Fossil Record 6
Volume Authors:Lucas, Spencer G., editor; Sullivan, Robert M.
Source:Fossil Record 6, edited by Spencer G. Lucas and Robert M. Sullivan. Bulletin - New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Vol.79, p.277-298. Publisher: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque, NM, United States. ISSN: 1524-4156
Publication Date:2018
Note:In English. 216 refs.; illus., incl. 3 plates, 3 tables, sketch map
Summary:The first sloth coprolites were collected at the end of the Nineteenth Century at Cueva de Milodón in Chile. There are 23 localities in North and South America and the West Indies that yield sloth coporolites. All occurrences of sloth coprolites in the United States represents Nothrotheriops shastensis and are from late Rancholabrean caves. Gypsum Cave in Nevada and Rampart Cave in Arizona contain large latrinites of sloth coprolites. Other North American localities are Muav Caves (Arizona), Aden Crater and Shelter Cave (New Mexico), Upper Sloth Cave, Lower Sloth Cave, Dust Cave, Williams Cave (Texas) and Bechan Cave and Cowboy Cave (Utah). South American localities have coprolites of at least four genera and are Pikimachay Cave (Peru), Peñas de las Trampas 1.1, Cueva Cacao 1A, Gruta del Indio, Cuchillo Curá and Cerro Casa de Piedra 7 (Argentina), Cueva del Milodón (Chile), Lapa Vermelha IV and Gruta de Brejoes (Brazil). Bones of sloths are widespread in the Greater and Lesser Antilles but coprolites only occur at three localities in Cuba at Ciego Montero, Quemado de Güines and Solapa del Megalocnus. All the North American coprolites pertain to Castrocopros martini igen. et isp. nov. and those from Cueva del Milodón to Castrocopros hauthali igen. et isp. nov. In 9 caves, mainly in North America, the presence of sloths is based sorely on coprolites (sometimes associated with hair) as osteological specimens are absent; (1) Muav Caves; (2) Bechan Cave; (3) Cowboy Cave; (4) Upper Sloth Cave; (5) Lower Sloth Cave; (6) Dust Cave; (7) Williams Cave; (8) Cuchillo Curá,; (9) Cerro Casa de Piedra 7. Proposed hypotheses as to why sloth may have inhabited caves include; (1) reproduction-material den site; (2) obtaining nutrients; (3) shelter; and (4) low metabolism. There is limited evidence for predation on giant ground sloths, either by Pleistocene predators or humans; (1) North America - femura of Megalonyx jeffersonii with possible butchering marks; tracks of sloths associated with human tracks; and (2) South America - a Lestodon clavicle with putative marks from butchering, associated skeletons of Glossotherium and lithics. The record of sloth dung supports other evidence that there is less indication of survival of the megafauna into the Holocene in North America than South America. There is an acme of sloth coprolite preservation in the latest Pleistocene (also the only latrinites of Mammuthus and Bison) which suggests greater usage of caves by large herbivores at this time. The pattern of preservation of sloth coprolites suggests that climate rather than overkill was most significant in the extinction of ground sloths.
Subjects:Cenozoic; Chordata; Coprolites; Edentata; Eutheria; Extinction; Faunal list; Faunal studies; Ichnofossils; Mammalia; Morphology; New taxa; Paleoecology; Pleistocene; Quaternary; Taxonomy; Tetrapoda; Theria; Upper Pleistocene; Vertebrata; Xenarthra; Antilles; Argentina; Brazil; Caribbean region; Cuba; Greater Antilles; North America; Peru; South America; United States; West Indies; Castrocoprus; Folivora; Pilosa
Coordinates:N304000 N330500 W1040300 W1072000
N223000 N233000 W0810000 W0820000
S520000 S470000 W0700000 W0730000
Record ID:845829-26
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2020 American Geosciences Institute.
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