APPENDIX A - MAPINGUARI: LEGENDARY MAN-EATING CRYPTID OF THE AMAZON RAINFOREST—PART 4
Recent Observations and Significant Discoveries
FEEDING HABITS OF THE MEGATHERIUM
Recent discoveries indicate that not only might Megatherium have been an occasional scavenger and predator of small animals, but that it may have been a more active predator of larger animals as well.. (This is certainly not inconceivable). This was not an animal to trifle with. It lived with some large and extremely efficient predators, including the Short-Faced Bear, and in spite of the skinny-looking forelimbs, it was perfectly capable of disemboweling any overly-optimistic carnivore foolish enough to come within arm’s reach if it. The skeletal structure of these ground sloths indicates that the animals were massive. Their thick bones and even thicker joints (especially those on the hind legs) gave their appendages tremendous power that, combined with their size and fearsome claws, provided a formidable defense against predators.
There is a common misbelief that the sabre-toothed cat Smilodon hunted Megatherium, but studies show that the sloths were probably too big for even this large cat to attack. Richard Fariña and Ernesto Blanco of the Universidad de la República in Montevideo have analyzed a fossil skeleton of M. americanum and discovered that its olecranon—the part of the elbow to which the triceps muscle attaches—was very short. This adaptation is found in carnivores and optimizes speed rather than strength. The researchers say this would have enabled M. americanum to use its claws aggressively, like daggers (Fariña and Blanco, 1996). The conclusion is that, due to its nutrient-poor habitats, Megatherium may have actually taken over the kills of Smilodon.
It is not unheard of for even a large living herbivore, such as an elephant, to actually turn to predation in order to supplement it's nutritional needs in times of privation.
In his book, From Flying Toads to Snakes with Wings, cryptozoologist Dr. Karl P. N. Shuker relates the "fully verified" story of "The Woman Eating Elephant of World War II":
"During the final years of World War II, Germany was suffering from severe food shortages, and its zoo animals could not always be given the balanced diets that they had customarily received during peacetime. However, a male elephant in Berlin Zoo apparently succeeded in solving its mineral deficiency problems, albeit in a singularly horrific manner."
"A lady called Bertha Walt, who worked at an office near the zoo, made a habit of spending her lunchtime in the zoo, and feeding the remains of her sandwiches to this elephant. One day, she learned upon her arrival at the elephant's enclosure that he was unwell. Saddened by her pachyderm friend's illness, Walt unhesitatingly volunteered to stay with him overnight, in order to nurse him and to provide reassuring company for him. Given permission to do this, she duly spent the evening inside the elephant's enclosure, but when the animals keeper arrived the next morning to take over, his unbelieving eyes registered a terrible sight. Walt was stilll there, or to be more precise, parts of her were still there. The rest of her had been devoured by the elephant!"
As a matter of fact some scientists speculate that the giant sloth may have been one of the few predators of the great prehistoric armadillo-like Glyptodon!
Glyptodon (Greek for "grooved or carved tooth") was a large, armored mammal of the Glyptodontidae family. About the size and shape of a Volkswagen Beetle but flatter, and with all of the grace and agility of a speed bump, Glyptodon is believed to have been an herbivore, grazing on grasses and other plants found near rivers and small bodies of water. Glyptodon is part of the placental group of mammals known as Xenarthra. This order of mammals includes anteaters, tree sloths, extinct ground sloths, extinct pampatheres, and armadillos.
Glyptodon was covered by a protective shell composed of more than 1,000 2.5 cm-thick bony plates, called osteoderms or scutes. Each species of glyptodont had its own unique osteoderm pattern and shell type.
With this protection they were armored like turtles. However, unlike most turtles, Glyptodons could not withdraw their heads, but instead had a bony cap on the top of their skull. Even the tail of Glyptodon had a ring of bones for protection, making it a devastating, defensive cudgel capable of breaking bones. Such a massive shell needed considerable support, evidenced by features such as fused vertebrae, short but massive limbs set directly under it’s body, and a broad shoulder girdle.
The nasal passage was reduced with heavy muscle attachments for some unknown purpose. Some have speculated that the muscle attachments were for a proboscis, or trunk, much like that of a tapir or elephant. Most animals with a trunk, however, have nasal bones receding back on the skull, and glyptodonts do not have this feature. The lower jaws were very deep and helped support massive chewing muscles to help chew the coarse fibrous plants that can be found along river and lake banks.
Unlike tortoises, Glyptodon had no plastron (bottom shell). If a predator could get it over on it’s back, it was doomed. The trick, of course, was in turning something that large, heavy and uncooperative over. Apparently, Megatherium would have been more than capable of doing so!
[Cryptozoologist's Note: The conclusion that Megatherium was one of the only creatures large enough and strong enough to turn over a Glyptodon is based on the evolutionary assumption that all dinosaurs were already extinct at the time Glyptodon lived. If, as young earth scientists believe, dinosaurs and the mammalian Megafauna were contemporaries, there would have been numerous animals large enough to flip over and kill a Glyptodon.]
MYLODON CAVE: A VISITOR'S ACCOUNT
Before reaching Puerto Natales, we had already heard about the cave. The locals told us that the remains of a prehistoric animal which was "larger than a white bear, had huge claws and a colossal size", especially when it stood on its two rear legs, had been found inside the cave.
Such a description made us want to learn more about the so-called monster of Puerto Natales. We found out where the cave was located and, whithout hesitating, we set out in that direction.
We took Route 9 from the city center and headed northwards. After traveling 20 km, we turned left into a rubble road that led us to the very loins of the cave.
Great was the surprise when we reached that place. The site was declared a National Monument by the Government of Chile in 1993. The prehistoric animal received the name of Mylodon –as christened by its discoverer, Captain Eberhard, in 1895– and, when we observed a real-size statue of this animal, far from being a monstrosity of nature, we can assert that it even looked likeable.
The truth is that the spot where the cave is located looks like a commercial center. An interpretative museum explains the evolution of this mammal, which would belong to the xenarthra order. As we went out, sellers would offer small mylodons carved in wood as a souvenir to put on a shelf or be used as keyrings -not to mention the posters, cuddly toys and whatever merchandising products you can imagine.
Opposite, stands a pretty restaurant which offers all the services. And, last but not least, an entrance ticket must be paid in order to enter the Mylodon venue.
In the area, three caverns of various sizes and a conglomerate called Silla del Diablo (the devil's chair) stand out. The Mylodon Cave is a natural formation located on the Western slope of Mount Benítez. As we approached the site, we could check its size: 30 meters of height, 80 meters of width and 200 meters of length.
Once inside, we were told that the Mylodon had herbivorous habits and a platigrade gait. Its feeding habits determined the thickening of its dermis over the nasal arch, which along with its powerful claws, would enable it to dig out the ground with its snout in search for roots. According to reseach, this animal would move on four legs or on its two rear legs supporting its weight on its thick tail.
The remains of the Mylodon have been found at various depths, which suggests that the cave was occupied by these animals until they co-existed with the first primitive hunters.
Its extinction was probably due to three factors: weather changes, fighting with other animals for food, and the effect of some diseases.
After going through the cave, posing next to the Mylodon statue in order to take some pictures of the monument and observing the amount of stalactictes hanging from the cave roof, we started our way back to the city.
Feeling quieter, I remember that, once in the car, we smiled at all the fantasies we had imagined . What did we expect? Finding some specimen alive, or making a discovery that would unveil some new theory of the site?
PROOF THAT CARNIVOROUS AQUATIC SLOTHS ACTUALLY EXISTED?
Could This Be Evidence of the Tiger Sloth?
Sea-going Sloths from Peruay, May 1995
"GROUND sloths (Gravigrada, Xenarthra) are known from...South America and from...North America. They are medium to gigantic in size and have terrestrial habits. Discovery of abundant and well preserved remains of a new sloth (Thalassocnus natans), in marine...deposits from Peru drastically expands our knowledge of the range of adaptation of the order. The abundance of individuals, the absence of other land mammals in the rich marine vertebrate fauna of the site, and the fact that the Peruvian coast was a desert...suggest that it was living on the shore and entered the water probably to feed upon sea-grasses or seaweeds. The morphology of premaxillae, femur, caudal vertebrae (similar to those of otters and beavers) and limb proportions are in agreement with this interpretation." [Nature 375, 224 227 (18 May 1995)] The research was reported by C. de Muizon and H. Greg McDonald in Nature.
In 2004, de Muizon, McDonald, Salas and Urbina reported on the...feeding strategy of the sloths:
"The aquatic sloth Thalassocnus is represented by five species that lived along the coast of Peru....A detailed comparison of the cranial and mandibular anatomy of these species indicates different feeding adaptations....Three...species of Thalassocnus (T. antiquus, T. natans, and T. littoralis) were probably partial grazers (intermediate or mixed feeders) and the transverse component of mandibular movement was very minor, if any. They were probably feeding partially on stranded sea weeds or sea grasses, or in very shallow waters (less than [3 ft] or 1 m) as indicated by the abundant dental striae of their molariform teeth created by ingestion of sand. The two [other] species (T. carolomartini and T. yaucensis) were more specialized grazers....and had a distinct transverse component in their mandibular movement. Their teeth almost totally lack dental striae. These two species were probably feeding exclusively in the water at a greater depth than the other species." [Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology: Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 398–410.
[Cryptozoologist's Note: The conclusions that these Mylodons were aquatic and that they lived by the seashore are based on evolutionary assumptions regarding the origin of the marine fossils in which their remains were deposited. This ignores the very real possibility of these particular Mylodons having drowned in a global flood, as postulated by young earth scientists.]
RECENT EXPLORATION OF UNDERWATER CAVES IN THE YUCATAN CONFIRMS COEXISTENCE OF MYLODON AND MAN