The specimen described herein and assigned to 'Xyophorus' sp. (Mammalia, Xenarthra, Tardigrada) was collected in the locality Cerro Zeballos, northwestern Chubut Province, Argentina. The fossiliferous sediments bearing the specimen are correlated with Collón Curá Formation. The specimen has the features described for other members of 'Xyophorus' (e.g. shape and size of the molariforms, relationship between diastema length, m1 and m2 length) and has a Diastema Length/Tooth Row Length index (DL/TRL index) of ca. 14, between that of 'X.' villarroeli (12.07) from the Mauri Formation, Bolivia (ca. 10.3 Ma) and that of 'X.' bondesioi (16.45) from Arroyo Chasicó Formation, Argentina (ca. 10-8.7 Ma). The relationship between DL/TRL index and age of the bearing sediments, would suggest a Tortonian age (late Miocene) for the deposits of Collón Curá Formation at Cerro Zeballos, which results in a 'younger age' compared to the middle Miocene age traditionally accepted for the Collón Curá Formation bearing the Colloncuran fauna sensu stricto. Although no absolute ages for Cerro Zeballos are available yet, the geographic proximity of Cerro Zeballos to Cushamen River (with levels dated at ca. 11.2 Ma) supports the tentative Tortonian age indicated by the presence of 'Xyophorus' sp.
The hyoid apparatus reflects aspects of the form and function of feeding in living and extinct organisms and, despite the availability of information about this structure for Xenarthra, it remains little explored from an evolutionary perspective. Here we compare the morphology of the hyoid apparatus in xenarthrans, describing its general morphology and variation in each major clade and score these variations as phylogenetic characters, which were submitted to ancestral states reconstructions. The general hyoid morphology of Xenarthra consists of a v-bone (basihyal fused with the thyrohyals) and three paired bones (stylohyal, epihyal and ceratohyal), which are unfused in the majority of taxa. The clade-specific morphology observed here, allowed us to obtain additional synapomorphies for all major clades of Xenarthra (Cingulata, Pilosa, Folivora and Vermilingua), for Glyptodontididae, and for Nothrotheriidae. The fusion of hyoid elements are convergentelly achieved among the diphyletic extant tree sloths, some extinct ground sloths and glyptodontids. Despite the heavy influence of adaptive evolution related to feeding habits, the morphology of the hyoid apparatus proved to be a valuable source of phylogenetic information.
Recently, dental microwear analysis has been successfully employed to xenarthran teeth. Here, we present new data on use wear features on 16 molariforms of Orophodon hapaloides and Octodontotherium grande. These taxa count among the earliest sloths and are known from the Deseadan SALMA (late Oligocene). Modern phylogenetic analyses classify Octodontotherium and Orophodon within Mylodontoidea with whom they share lobate cheek teeth with an outer layer of cementum and a thick layer of orthodentine. Similar target areas of 100μm2 were analyzed on the orthodentine surface of each tooth by stereomicroscopic microwear and by SEM microwear. Results were unlike those of extant sloths (stereomicroscopic microwear: Bradypus, Choloepus) and published data from fossil sloths (SEM microwear: Acratocnus, Megalonyx, Megatherium, Thinobadistes); thus, both approaches independently indicate a different feeding ecology for the Oligocene taxa. The unique microwear results suggest that both taxa fed on plant material with low to moderate intrinsic toughness (foliage, twigs) but also proposes intake of tougher food items (e.g., seeds). Frequent gouging of the tooth surfaces can be explained by exogenous influence on microwear, such as possible intake of abrasive grit. We suggest an unspecialized herbivorous diet for Octodontotherium and Orophodon utilizing diverse food resources of their habitat. These interpretations support the reconstruction of (1) Deseadan environments as open habitats with spreading savannas/grasslands and (2) both taxa as wide-muzzled bulk feeders at ground level.
The Pinturas Formation (Burdigalian, early Miocene) crops out at several localities in the upper valley of the Pinturas river and its tributaries, northwestern Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. It is divided into three sequences (lower, middle, and upper) and the recorded fauna mainly consists of mammals, especially rodents, native ungulates, primates, and xenarthrans (cingulates and ground sloths). A primitive member of the Mylodontidae (Xenarthra, Folivora), was described by Ameghino and includes the multiple described species such as , and . The aim of this contribution is to present the first record of recovered from different localities within the middle sequence of the Pinturas Formation. The morphology and size of the specimens herein presented are similar to that of . In the skull, the tooth row diverges anteriorly and the palate is flat ahead of M3 and markedly convex behind the M3; the shape of the m1–m3 is similar to that of other species; although differences are related to the shape of the m4. The similarities and differences allow referring specimens from the Pinturas Formation to sp. In addition to the record from the Pinturas Formation, was recorded during the Burdigalian Stage/Age (early Miocene) at several localities of the Santa Cruz Formation, the upper levels of Sarmiento Formation (Argentina), and from the Cura-Mallín and Palomares formations (Chile). is a guide fossil for the Burdigalian Stage/Age of the south of South America.
Pilosa include anteaters (Vermilingua) and sloths (Folivora). Modern tree sloths are represented by two genera, Bradypus and Choloepus (both around 4-6 kg), whereas the fossil record is very diverse, with approximately 90 genera ranging in age from the Oligocene to the early Holocene. Fossil sloths include four main clades, Megalonychidae, Megatheriidae, Nothrotheriidae, and Mylodontidae, ranging in size from tens of kilograms to several tons. Modern Vermilingua are represented by three genera, Cyclopes, Tamandua and Myrmecophaga, with a size range from 0.25 kg to about 30 kg, and their fossil record is scarce and fragmentary. The dependence of the body size on phylogenetic pattern of Pilosa is analysed here, according to current cladistic hypotheses. Orthonormal decomposition analysis and Abouheif C-mean were performed. Statistics were significantly different from the null-hypothesis, supporting the hypothesis that body size variation correlates with the phylogenetic pattern. Most of the correlation is concentrated within Vermilingua, and less within Mylodontidae, Megatheriidae, Nothrotheriidae and Megalonychidae. Influence of basal metabolic rate (BMR), dietary habits and substrate preference is discussed. In anteaters, specialised insectivory is proposed as the primary constraint on body size evolution. In the case of sloths, mylodontids, megatheriids and nothrotheriids show increasing body size through time; whereas megalonychids retain a wider diversity of sizes. Interplay between BMR and dietary habits appears to be the main factor in shaping evolution of sloth body size.
In this contribution, we describe new remains (skull and humeri) of the Megatheriinae Megathericulus patagonicus Ameghino, 1904, recovered from the middle Miocene fossiliferous locality of Quebrada Honda, Bolivia. We also discuss the taxonomic, biogeographical, and chronological relevance of this discovery. Referral of the new specimens described here to Megathericulus patagonicus is based on metric and morphological similarities with the holotype and a humerus that has been referred to this species. Shared features include: 1) molariforms that are mesiodistally compressed and rectangular in outline; 2) a relatively less compressed M1 with labial and lingual margins that converge slightly mesially; 3) a very long premolariform portion of the maxillae (rostrum); 4) anteriorly divergent lateral edges of the maxillae; 5) a prominent, median V-shaped notch (apex posterior) between the articular surfaces of the maxillae and premaxillae; and 6) a long, gracile humerus with a prominent anterolaterally positioned deltopectoral crest on the anterior surface and a clearly evident lateral musculo-spiral channel. Precise geographic and stratigraphic data exist for the described remains, which are closely associated with a tuff dated at 12.2–12.5 Ma (Serravallian, middle Miocene), making it the first accurately dated specimen referred to Megathericulus Ameghino, 1904.
In this contribution the record of a Nothrotheriinae (Xenarthra, Tardigrada) ground sloth is reported from the Late Pleistocene of the Northern Pampa of Santa Fe Province, Argentina. The stratigraphic unit where the fossil was collected corresponds to fluvial-palustrine sediments of the Timbúes Formation, outcropping along the Carcarañá River valley. The relative stratigraphic position of this lithostratigraphic unit, observed in several sections mainly on the Paraná River cliffs near Carcarañá River distal area, suggests that it was deposited during the Last Interglacial Stage. The specimen (MPAHND-135), assigned to cf. , is represented by the proximal two-thirds of a left femur that shows a prominent lesser trochanter and no connection between the third trochanter and the ectepicondyle. The presence of cf. in sediments related to humid conditions supports the idea that Nothrotheriinae had great ecological tolerance and was capable of inhabiting climates ranging from cold and arid, as was previously proposed, to warm and humid.
The concept of a pedolateral pes in many extinct sloths began effectively with Owen’s mid-nineteenth century descriptions of Glossotherium and Megatherium. Pedolaterality denotes a pes that is habitually inverted, with the digital plane oriented nearly vertically so that weight is borne largely by the lateral digits (mainly metatarsal V) and the plantar surface faces almost entirely medially. Subsequent researchers were strongly influenced by Owen’s interpretations. Astragalar morphology, with the medial and lateral portions of its trochlea forming, respectively, a peg-shaped odontoid process and a discoid facet, came to be viewed as a proxy for pedolaterality and, eventually, horizontal rotation around a nearly vertical axis as the main movement of the pes. Such motion necessitates a nearly vertical orientation for the odontoid process. However, analysis of the pes of the Pleistocene megatheriines Megatherium and Eremotherium, the astragalus of which conforms to the type usually interpreted in the literature as indicative of pedolaterality, suggests that the pes was not strongly inverted. Rather, the digital plane was about 35o to the horizontal plane, so that weight was borne largely by metatarsal V, but also by metatarsal IV and possibly the ungual phalanx of digit III. The astragalus was positioned so that the odontoid process was oriented obliquely to the vertical axis. With this element so positioned, mediolateral rotation in the horizontal plane was minor, and the main movement of the pes produced dorsiflexion and plantar flexion in nearly the parasagittal plane, the usual movement of the pes in terrestrial mammals.
Recent analyses resulted in the recognition of a single species of the genus Megatherium in the pampas of Argentina. The finding of a specimen consisting on a dentary and femur from the late Pleistocene of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, indicates that a very small-sized species of the genus was present in the Pampean Region. This allows revalidating the taxon Megatherium filholi, previously considered as a junior synonym of another taxon. Megatherium filholi appears to be allied to Megatherium species of the "Andean clade". This, together with finding of additional small-sized megatheriines in the Argentine pampas, suggests a complex palaeobiogeographical scenario and indicates that the diversity of megatheriines at the pampas may be underrepresented.