Fun Scelidotherium Facts For Kids

Sharon Judith
Jan 31, 2023 By Sharon Judith
Originally Published on Oct 01, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
This dinosaur had a head that was similar in appearance to that of an ant-eater. Continue reading to discover more interesting Scelidotherium facts that are sure to keep you hooked!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

The Scelidotherium species that belonged to the Scelidotheriinae family existed in various of South and North America around 0.67 million years ago. The Scelidotheriinae family contains the most diverse clades of Tardigrada.

In 1889, it was put into the family Scelidotheriidae by Ameghino but in 1988, it was assigned to the Mylodontidae by Carroll.

In 1995, Gaudin and Zurita reassigned it to Scelidotheriinae subfamily.

It was only recently that they were assigned to full family status by Preslee. So, from this, these extinct ground sloths were constantly removed and put into different groups throughout history.

They were an extinct genus of ground sloths that came from the Mylodontidae family and may have lived between the Middle Pleistocene epoch to the Late Pleistocene period. The fossil distribution of this ground sloth indicated they might have been endemic to Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Panama.

It was first reported by Charles Darwin in his journal named 'The Voyage of the Beagle' about some perfect fossil material which was Scelidotherium when he was traveling in 1832 on land from Bahía Blanca to Buenos Aires.

He went on to club it in the same group as Megatherium.

It was Owen in 1840 who recognized the fossils and named it 'Scelidotherium' which meant 'femur beast' to denote the unique proportions of the skeletal structure and elements.

Scientists have speculated that humans or 'homo sapiens' were responsible for the demise of ground sloths but this theory is yet to be proven as there was no physical evidence or data to base this speculation.

There is not much information available on how these extinct mammals from the mammalian superorder called would have looked xenarthra would have looked. This sloth that belonged to the genera of Megatherium and Mylodon were believed to have had four toes and a lot of hair!

Scientists and paleontologists all over the world are still trying to understand Scelidotherium giant sloth evolution and phylogeny.

If you'd like to learn more on similar mammalia, check out our Mylodon fun facts for kids or Glyptodon interesting facts for kids that you're sure to love!

Scelidotherium Interesting Facts

Was the Scelidotherium a dinosaur?

No, the Scelidotherium was considered to be more of a sloth than a dinosaur. It was first mentioned in 'The Voyage of A Beagle' by Charles Darwin when his was traveling to Buenos Aires in 1832.

How do you pronounce 'Scelidotherium'?

'Scelidotherium' is pronounced as 'Sceli-doh-ther-ium'. The fossil distribution of this sloth indicates that it had its range in many parts of North and South America. They existed for about 0.67 million years in the Middle Pleistocene epoch to the Late Pleistocene period in Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, and Panama

What type of prehistoric animal was a Scelidotherium?

This ground sloth was a type of mammal that comes from the Scelidotheriinae family status and was named by Owen in 1840 when he discovered the true character of the fossil bones.

In which geological period did the Scelidotherium live?

It is believed that the Scelidotherium lived between the Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene period in the Latin American countries of Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, and so on.

When did the Scelidotherium become extinct?

This ground sloth became extinct about 68 million years ago, existing for only 0.67 million years!

Where did a Scelidotherium live?

Scelidotherium lived in a habitat that was fairly terrestrial and slightly wet. Their fossil distribution or range was spread across various countries in North and South America, especially Argentina.

What was a Scelidotherium's habitat?

These ground sloth species, which were named by Owen in 1840, lived in marshes, rainforests, grasslands, floodplains, swamps, and open forests. These sloths would have preferred living in such habitats as they would have had easier access to a variety of plant matter or vegetation.

Who did a Scelidotherium live with?

There is not enough evidence to explain whether these species lived alone or in groups. Comparing them to the modern-day sloth, the Scelidotherium would have also lived a solitary life, mostly being by itself.

How long did a Scelidotherium live?

This ground sloth species of the same genus as its name and from the Pleistocene epoch, would have probably lived for a period of 20-30 years.

How did they reproduce?

Reproduction among these clothes is still a topic of great debate that continues to take place among a wide range of scientists. Most of them suspect that these sloths would have reproduced by giving live birth to one or two young ones.

Again, there is not much known about the parenting styles and the behaviour of the young of these species but they would have probably been good parents.

Scelidotherium Fun Facts

What did a Scelidotherium look like?

This sloth species, which came from the North and South American region, constantly saw replacements in various groups or subfamilies throughout history. The reassignment of these sloth Mammalia to the scelidotheriinae was done by Gaudin and Zurita in 1995.

The Scelidotherium fossil was first reported by Charles Darwin in his journal called 'The Voyage of the Beagle' when traveling to Buenos Aires on land and associated it with Megatherium.

It was, however, another person named Owen who named it in 1840 and called Scelidothrium which means 'femur beast' to indicate the distinctive parts of the sloth. Not much is known about the appearance of this Mammalia of the Megatherium and Mylodon genera.

They had four toes that would have been heavily clawed.

This 'femur beast' would have existed during the Ice age and even though they walked on four legs, they could easily stand on their hind legs reaching up to take the leaves from trees. The claws would have also worked well in warding off some deadly predators.

The skull of this sloth was very similar to that seen in an ant-eater.

How many bones did a Scelidotherium have?

The number of Scelidotherium bones is not known currently but considering their size, they would have definitely had over 150 bones!

How did they communicate?

These sloths that were named by Owen and put under the Scelidotheriinae group by Gaudin and Zurita, were not great communicators. They would have probably made small squeaks or bleats and even used certain visual displays as forms of communication.

How big was a Scelidotherium?

This sloth genus was pretty big in size resembling a big Asiatic black bear! They were about 3.7 ft (1.1 m) in length and had a skull size that was similar to an anteater.

How fast could a Scelidotherium move?

The exact speed at which this sloth is not known due to lack of enough fossil evidence but they were slow mammals.

How much did a Scelidotherium weigh?

The Scelidotherium weighed about 1,870 lb (848.2 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

These clothes have no specific male or female names. They simply go by their common name which is Scelidotherium, a name given by Owen in 1840.

What would you call a baby Scelidotherium?

A baby Scelidotherium is called a cub!

What did they eat?

These ground sloth species were herbivorous mammals. They fed largely on plant matter and vegetation. They would have shared their dietary patterns with other herbivores that we know of today.

How aggressive were they?

These sloths that were named by Owen would have been harmless! Given their solitary nature, they were mostly by themselves and given their big build and sharp claws, they could have easily avoided most predators. Nonetheless, they would have displayed a certain degree of aggressive behavior if they or their habitats were threatened in any way.

Did you know...

There is big speculation going around scientific circles that these sloths might have existed at the same time early humans did and they would have hunted them format, shelter, and clothing, thereby accelerating their demise.

Was the Scelidotherium endemic?

Althought the fossil distribution of this genus was spread largely across the American region, they were particularly believed to have been endemic to Argentina.

What is Scelidotherium most closely related to?

These ground sloth species were closely related to armadillos and anteaters.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Phenacodus fun facts, or Hypohippus facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Scelidotherium coloring pages.

Second image by Ghedo.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Sharon Judith

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology

Sharon Judith picture

Sharon JudithBachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology

A humanities and Science student, Sharon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a specialization in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology from Mount Carmel College and is currently pursuing her Master's in Science from Bournemouth University. She is passionate about research, content writing, and development, and has a keen interest in international finance and economics. With her strong analytical skills and inquisitive mind, she is always striving to deepen her knowledge and understanding of these subjects.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

Read full bio >