Rare Sloth Fossil Discovered in Riverside County

A Southern California Edison project has unearthed what appears to be the fossilized skull of a giant ground sloth that roamed the region hundreds of thousands of years ago.

The fossil was uncovered last month at a construction site 10 miles west of Beaumont in Riverside County. The skull appears to be from the Irvingtonian Period, which spanned 1.9 million to 300,000 years ago. Experts say only a half-dozen such giant ground sloth skulls from that era have been found in North America.

Paleontologist Steve Conkling of LSA Associates says giant ground sloths fossilized well but there aren't many skulls. National Park Service expert Greg McDonald has looked at photos and is confident it is the rarity it appears to be, but more analysis is needed.

The beasts stood 8 feet tall and weighed up to 4,000 pounds.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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