The University of Iowa’s Museum of Natural History is planning to display the complete skeleton of a rare find — a giant sloth ten millennia old. Discovered in southwest Iowa near Shenandoah last summer, the giant sloth is almost ready for its public debut. Museum coordinator David Brenzel says they were huge creatures but it’s very uncommon to find an entire skeleton. Other animals like mammoths often died in watery areas and were quickly covered by mud and preserved — so they’re fairly common. Sloths were upland animals and when they died, their bones were left in the open in the forest for other animals to scavenge and scatter. The furry creature was a plant-eater that stood nearly ten feet tall and weighed perhaps three tons. The animals were living in Iowa about ten-thousand years ago, when the first Native Americans were here — “not dinosaur times,” says Brenzel, “we’re talking practically yesterday.”This find is one of a few in North America and a first-of-its-kind find for the state of Iowa. Brenzel hopes the skeleton’s discovery will provide new evidence about how sloths lived in Iowa during the Ice Ages.The dig is expected to be complete sometime next year to become the feature in an upcoming new exhibit planned for the Iowa City museum.
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