Fossilized Footprints suggest that Early Humans chased Giant Sloths

Fossilized Footprints suggest that Early Humans chased Giant Sloths

Footprints-within-footprints found at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

Humanity has evolved over time but encountered quite a handful of strange experiences along the way. A lot of myths are associated with ancient times but the idea that big-footed ground sloths roamed around the Earth has got scientific support now as researchers found their fossilized footprints. Another amazing fact that these fossils revealed was that the humans of that time chased them anywhere and everywhere.

The presence of human footprints in all the kidney-shaped paw prints of these huge creatures signify that mankind followed them to all parts of the world. This discovery also provides a possible explanation that why these beasts are seen nowhere nowadays. A popular belief, in this context, is that these sloths went extinct thousands of years ago as humans stalked and hunted them.

This physical evidence was found in a western corner of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The marks of human footprints in this part of the world are amazing in themselves as they were discovered for the first time ever. What made things more exciting is the place of their presence. The researchers found these traces preserved within the 20-inch treads of giant sloths. More than 10 of these were found in the salty dust of the White Sands. Matthew Bennnett, a Geomorphologist from Bournemouth University who led the research explained that in the following words,

The human footprints share the same long-axis orientation and occur inside the sloth track outline, indicating that the human track-maker was walking intentionally within the sloth track. These steps required the person to adjust her/his normal stride to accommodate the longer stride of the sloth.”

According to the analysis of the researchers, the ground sloth became too frustrated by the presence of humans and decided to react. Fossilized paw, foot, and claw marks on the site indicate that it reared up on its hind legs and swung its sickle-shaped claws around. Mystery originates from this point on. Scientists lack any evidential proof to back all the suppositions they make.

According to Bennett, it is very much possible that humans attempted to kill it and succeeded in their plans. Having said that, killing such a muscular beast with stone weapons seems highly unlikely as hunting such a creature is a difficult job even for modern-day hunters who are well-equipped in all fields.

The tracks of four-footed animals like camel were found in 1981 near the White Sands Missile Range. Although some researchers tried it on their own, no planned research was organized before 2011. A proper survey including drone flights in 2014 was done to look for more signs of life in those parts. It provided great results as 27 individual footprints of humans were found. As these marks vanished into a sand dune, the team decided to excavate the dune in order to extract more of them.

The calculations of Vince Santucci, an author of this latest report and a Senior Paleontologist at the National Park Service, and his team were spot on as he himself said,

And lo and behold, right where we anticipated they would have been, were human footprints.”

The researchers examining the site also revealed some evidence which shows signs of a possible interaction between humans and giants sloths. The sudden change of direction is one of them as sloths tried to save themselves from offensive actions of humans. A lot of circular prints were found that might represent the last stand of the animal. The report provided by the research team stressed the fact that these circular patterns are consistent with defensive behaviors where sloths stand on their hind-limbs in order to use their forelimbs for defense.

Scientists named these structures as Flailing Circles. Despite all these evidence, nothing can be said with 100% certainty about the intentions of prehistoric humans.

David Bustos, the Lead Researcher of the study, had suspected the existence of fossilized footprints of ancient humans on the grounds of the monument for many years. In addition to humans, they found track marks from camels, cattle, cats, and wolves. About the concentration of these tracks, Bennett said.

“There are literally hundreds of thousands of tracks of a variety of animals and humans. It’s likely the largest fossilized track mark site in the Americas, and possibly even the world.” 

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