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(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.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Edentata, family Megatheriidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1796, Cuvier produced a paper documenting the anatomy of this creature, placing it in the family tree of mammals, and finally giving it a name: Megatherium americanum (which translates to "great American beast").
The Megatherium apparently was the biggest of the giant sloths and their size, strength, armoured skin and large claws meant that they had no natural predators.
Mesotherium sp., "Scelidodon" tarijensis, Megatherium americanum y Glossotherium sp.) en sedimentos de edad Pleistoceno Tardio, evidencia que el area serrana de Cordoba pudo actuar como area refugio o reservorio.
Touch screens with videos about the excavation of a megatherium in Crete were available, but their use was not explained to the children.
SH10 Silver 6.4 Bacillus cereus Silver 20-40 Bacillus megatherium D01 Gold 1.9 [+ or -] 0.8 Bacillus subtilis 168 Gold 5-25 Bacillus subtilis Silver 5-50 Clostridium thermoaceticum Cadmium sulfide -- Corynebacterium sp.
Now I'll carp about movies that are missing from Younkins' book: Erich von Stroheim's megatherium, the great, repellent Greed; the second half of Gone with the Wind, which has a lot to do with business; Rosalind Russell's glorious comedy Roughly Speaking, which should warm any libertarian's heart; and James Cagney's magnificent musical Footlight Parade, which shows how competition leads to innovation, and romance too.
Biological control of root-rot disease on mandarin by antagonistic strain of Bacillus megatherium. Ann.
megatherium reproduces well in ecosystems with high availability of soil nitrate nitrogen.