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Ground sloth extinction and human occupation at Gruta del Indio, Argentina.

Austin Long, Paul S Martin, Humberto A Lagiglia


A new set of radiocarbon dates from a rockshelter in Mendoza, Argentina addresses the question of the temporal overlap between the presence of an unidentified extinct ground sloth (cf., Mylodontidae) and evidence of human activity. Dung balls on the cave floor, evidently deposited by sloth, are overlain by charcoal, apparently of cultural origin. (super 14) C dates, mostly on charcoal and dung from this shelter, calibrated using recently published curves, as well as the stratigraphy of the deposits from which the samples were collected, suggest that any co-occurrence of humans and ground sloths in this region was brief. In contrast, the single date on mylodon dermal ossicles from this shelter suggests significant time overlap. Replication of this date as well as obtaining new high-precision (super 14) C analyses from this site will be the next priority.


Gruta del Indio Rockshelter;Mendoza Argentina;Mylodontidae;sloths;dung;lower Holocene;Argentina;extinction;human activity;South America;Mammalia;archaeology;archaeological sites;Holocene;stratigraphy;Chordata;Tetrapoda;Vertebrata;Pleistocene;upper Pleistocene;Cenozoic;charcoal;Quaternary;C 14;carbon;dates;isotopes;radioactive isotopes;absolute age

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