Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


(mĕgəthēr`ēəm) [Gr.,=large beast], extinct ground sloth, of the genus Megatherium, that was widely distributed in North and South America in the Pleistocene epoch. Fossil evidence shows that these mammals became extinct comparatively recently, about the time that the first explorers reached the New World. A huge beast, the megatherium attained a length of 18 ft (5.5 m) and probably weighed several tons. The hind legs and tail were massive, the forelegs slender and supple; the animal probably supported itself much of the time in a semierect position on its hind legs and tail and used its forelegs to pull from trees the foliage on which it fed. The megatherium is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information.
, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Edentata, family Megatheriidae.



a genus of fossil mammals of the order Edentata; giant ground sloths. Remains, including complete skeletons, have been found in Pleistocene deposits of North and South America. Megatherium had a massive trunk measuring up to 6 m long and short legs. It fed on leaves and young shoots, which it obtained by standing upright and, resting on its powerful tail, bending the branches with the long curved claws of its forelimbs.

References in periodicals archive ?
The Megalonyx, the Megatherium, and Thomas Jefferson's Lapse of Memory.
2006), en el perfil expuesto se encuentran representadas un conjunto de unidades estratigraficas posiblemente referibles al intervalo Plioceno tardio-Pleistoceno tardio (Piso-Edades Ensenadense, Bonaerense y Lujanense, correspondientes a las Biozonas de Mesotherium cristatum, Megatherium americanum y Equus (Amerhippus) neogaeus, respectivamente).
Area Sitio Taxa Piedemonte El Chacay Xenarthra Megatherium sp.
Hear the clatter of a megatherium family by the waterhole.
He found the luxuriant Brazilian rain forest "a chaos of delight," discovered the bones of a Megatherium that created a sensation on arrival in London, marveled at the difference between the "savage" Fuegians and "civilized man," rode across the pampas, and climbed the Andes.
A final variant is the description of the megatherium as 'fouill(ant) la terre avec ses membres anterieurs' (143), a subtly obscene remark calculated to enrage Hetzel.
Finalmente, en el caso de los restos de xenartros, el material paleontologico disponible en Chile para fines comparativos es escaso; sin embargo, existe en el Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Santiago material bastante completo de Megatherium medinae y Glossotherium, que fue utilizado para la identificacion anatomica de los restos.
Glyptodon clavipes, Megatherium americanum, Glossotherium robustum, Ozotoceros, Arctotherium sp.
El Megatherium, a que nos referimos, es notabilisimo, tanto por su tamano gigantesco cuanto por la perfeccion con que esta armado, y seria una lastima que perdiesemos un objeto tan precioso, pues su dueno, si el gobierno no lo compra, lo llevara a Europa, donde sera apreciado justamente" (13).
1988), ademas que estan presentes todos los huesos del animal, lo que contrasta con los sitios de procesamiento de otros grandes animales pleistocenicos, como Megatherium americanum, en los que solo se encuentran huesos de los cuartos (Borrero et al.