Megatherium (from the Greek mega [μέγας], meaning “great”, and therion [θηρίον], “beast”) was a genus of elephant-sized ground sloths endemic to Central and South America that lived from the late Pliocene through the end of thePleistocene. Its size was exceeded by only a few other land mammals, including mammoths and Paraceratherium.
Megatherium was one of the largest land mammals known, weighing up to 4 tonnes and up to 6 m (20 ft) in length from head to tail. It is the largest known ground sloth, as big as modern elephants and would have only been exceeded in its time by a few species of mammoth. Although it was primarily a quadruped, its footprints show that it was capable of assuming a bipedal stance. This sloth, like a modern anteater, walked on the sides of its feet because its claws prevented it from putting them flat on the ground. Megatherium species were members of the abundant Pleistocene megafauna, large mammals that lived during the Pleistocene epoch.
Megatherium had a robust skeleton with a large pelvic girdle and a broad muscular tail. Its large size enabled it to feed at heights unreachable by other contemporaryherbivores. Rising on its powerful hind legs and using its tail to form a tripod,Megatherium could support its massive body weight while using the curved claws on its long forelegs to pull down branches with the choicest leaves. Its jaw is believed to have housed a long tongue, which it would then use to pull leaves into its mouth, similar to the modern tree sloth.
(From Wikipedia, October 2013)