Research ArticleANTHROPOLOGY

Footprints preserve terminal Pleistocene hunt? Human-sloth interactions in North America

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Science Advances  25 Apr 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 4, eaar7621
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar7621

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Abstract

Predator-prey interactions revealed by vertebrate trace fossils are extremely rare. We present footprint evidence from White Sands National Monument in New Mexico for the association of sloth and human trackways. Geologically, the sloth and human trackways were made contemporaneously, and the sloth trackways show evidence of evasion and defensive behavior when associated with human tracks. Behavioral inferences from these trackways indicate prey selection and suggest that humans were harassing, stalking, and/or hunting the now-extinct giant ground sloth in the terminal Pleistocene.

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