things I like: megafauna

Giant Sloth skeletonAt the risk of committing nerd heresy, I'm not that interested in dinosaurs. I enjoy gawking at them in museums, and like anyone who was ever a kid with a dinosaur picture book, I have my favorite (it's triceratops). I also love a good dino monster movie. Still, my prehistoric beasts of choice have always been the megafauna.

Mammoths, dire wolves, and saber-toothed cats are all mammals that would have come into contact with humans. My current favorite is the giant sloth, whose huge, solid bones look unlike anything we have in North America today. There were also some really odd megafauna in Australia, including a marsupial lion.

They're cool animals, though not the easiest things to learn about. Since they aren't as high profile as dinosaurs, there aren't too many "general audiences" books about them that weren't written for children. Most of the ones that exist seem to focus on extinction theories rather than describing the actual animals.

And as far as fiction goes, most of the movies that have included extinct megafauna have been of the cheesy made-for-television variety. But I'm keeping my eyes peeled, just in case.

sloth photo by ellenm1 used under Creative Commons

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