The Yukon Beaver Eater, and Ground Sloths in New Zealand?

Posted by: Karl Shuker on March 9th, 2016

When we think of sloths, we generally picture those famously sluggish, dog-sized, tree-dwelling beasts that spend much of their time hanging upside-down from branches in modern-day Central and South America. Millions of years ago, however, there were several additional, very different morphological types – of which the most famous and dramatic were the ground sloths.

Most of these were primarily terrestrial, some were rather bovine in appearance but with shaggy fur, and many were considerably larger than their arboreal relatives. Although principally quadrupedal, ground sloths were capable of squatting erect on their hind legs to browse upon high-level foliage, and their distribution range included not only tropical mainland Latin America, but also North America as well as various of the Caribbean islands.

Megatherium ground sloth, public domain

The last ground sloths officially died out several millennia ago, but reports of mysterious creatures resembling these supposedly bygone beasts have emerged from several different Neotropical locations in modern times – including in particular some compelling evidence to suggest that Brazil may harbour a species of living mylodontid ground sloth, eluding scientific discovery yet well known to the native people sharing its secluded jungle domain, referring to this formidable cryptid as the mapinguary.

Moreover, certain putative ground sloths living in modern times have also been reported from localities outside the Neotropics, including two hitherto little-reported examples – the saytoechin or Yukon beaver eater, and a huge cryptid allegedly spied in, of all places, New Zealand!

Further details can be accessed here on my ShukerNature blog.

Karl Shuker About Karl Shuker
My name is Dr Karl P.N. Shuker. I am a zoologist (BSc & PhD), media consultant, and the author of 25 books and hundreds of articles, specialising in cryptozoology and animal mythology. I have a BSc (Honours) degree in pure zoology from the University of Leeds (U.K.), and a PhD in zoology and comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham (U.K.). I have acted jointly as consultant and major contributor to three multi-author volumes on cryptozoology and other mysterious phenomena. I am the Life Sciences Consultant to The Guinness Book of Records/Guinness World Records (Guinness: London, 1997-present day), and was consultant to Monsters (Lorenz Books: London, 2001), as well as a contributor to Mysteries of the Deep (Llewellyn: St Paul, 1998), Guinness Amazing Future (Guinness: London, 1999), The Earth (Channel 4 Books: London, 2000), and Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained (Chambers: London, 2007). I appear regularly on television & radio, was a consultant for the Discovery TV series Into the Unknown, and a question setter for the BBC's quiz show Mastermind. I am a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a Member of the Society of Authors, and the Cryptozoology Consultant for the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ). I have written articles for numerous publications, including Fortean Times, The X Factor, Paranormal Magazine, FATE, Strange Magazine, Prediction, Beyond, Uri Geller's Encounters, Phenomena, Alien Encounters, Wild About Animals, All About Cats, All About Dogs, Cat World, etc. In 2005, I was honoured by the naming of a new species of loriciferan invertebrate after me - Pliciloricus shukeri.

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