Giant Sloth on Display in Guyana’s National Museum

Ground sloths are a diverse group of extinct sloths, whose most recent survivors were found in the Caribbean. They have been extinct in the Americas for over 10,000 years. Megatherium, the elephant-sized version, was a gigantic ground sloth that weighed as much as an African elephant and had huge claws, although it was a herbivore. It is believed that it originated in the tropical rainforest in South America, had an average height of 15 feet, and weighed approximately three tons. Bones of this giant sloth were discovered by miners around Omai and the Oko Creek, Cuyuni River, in 1999, bringing Guyana under the radar of paleontologists and researchers. Because Guyana has a large biodiversity, it can become a frontier for such giant species.

The bones found at Oko Creek were donated to the National Museum by Michael Vieira and a replica of the Megatherium has been built. Re-created from fossils, the fur coated mammal stands on its hind legs with outstretched paws, with its head almost touching the ceiling. Local Guyanese artists created three dimensional representations of the forest and what the fauna and flora of that age might have looked like.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, in collaboration with the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) and Germany’s Eerepami Regenwaldstiftung [Eerepami Rainforest Endowment], officially declared opened the Megatherium Giant Sloth exhibition. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds officially launched the artifact, thanking the generous sponsors who contributed to the creation of the giant creature.

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Eerepami Regenwaldstiftung Sven Ullrich said that he was honored “that he and his country, Germany, had a chance to participate in a project that directs the people to the richness of Guyana,” adding that he is pleased to awaken the interest of children and their fascination for the natural environment.

[The Eerepami Regenwaldstiftung is a foundation dedicated to development and cooperation with the indigenous peoples in the rainforests of Guyana. This German organization has provided help with many educational and sustainability projects in the country.]

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