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Sci Adv. 2018 Apr 25;4(4):eaar7621. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aar7621. eCollection 2018 Apr.

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

Author information

1
National Park Service, White Sands National Monument, P.O. Box 1086, Holloman Air Force Base, NM 88330, USA.
2
Department of Classics, Tree-ring Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-3201, USA.
3
School of Anthropology, The University of Arizona, 1009 E. South Campus Drive, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
4
Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 1040 E. Fourth Street, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
5
Institute for Studies in Landscapes and Human Evolution, Bournemouth University, Poole BH12 5BB, UK.
6
New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801, USA.
7
National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240, USA.
8
National Park Service, Cultural Resources Directorate, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240, USA.
9
Department of Anthropology, California State University, Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0400, USA.
10
Bureau of Land Management, 440 West 200 South, Suite 500, Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1345, USA.

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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