Footprints show human beings hunted huge sloths throughout the Ice Age



People tracking huge sloths thousands of years ago in what is now New Mexico left footprints that validate people as soon as hunted the huge animals, scientists report April 25 in Science Advances.Giant ground sloths,

which vanished at the end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years earlier, might weigh more than an elephant. With their deadly claws and muscle, the herbivores would have been formidable victim, states David Bustos, a biologist with the National Park Service at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.In April 2017, scientists came across more than 100 tracks in White Sands. These "ghost tracks"had formerly stayed concealed since they can be seen only under the ideal moisture conditions-- too little or too much water in the soil, and the details of the prints were invisible.Tests of sediment revealed the sloth and human

prints were made at the same time. An analysis of the tracks also suggested the 2 species were connecting with one another." We're getting a view into the

past, of an interaction in between two types, "says Sally Reynolds, a paleoecologist at Bournemouth University in Poole, England. "This was a minute of action, a moment of drama. "Reynolds, Bustos and their coworkers rebuilded the chase: Humans stalked a sloth, or several sloths, which the hunters surrounded in the open. At 7 locations, a sloth reared up on its hind legs-- overlooking the humans-- to fend off an attack. The chase continued, with the humans in hot pursuit.The encounter"wasn't luck or happenstance; it was cold estimation

, "Reynolds says." Our intent was to eliminate them." The path of footprints ends, though, and it's unclear who came out victorious.

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