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Credit: Alex McClelland/Bournemouth University

In the geological epoch called the Pleistocene – which lasted from about 2.5 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago – a bigfoot-like ground sloth walked along a lakeshore in New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument.

Scientists found a footprint of a human in the western part of White Sands. The early humans seem to be following the giant sloth as the fossilized footprints are stepping on the elongated, kidney-shaped paw prints. This analysis was published in the journal Science Advances.

According to the new study, no matter where these giant creatures went, the ancient humans followed them. The footprints they left are considered physical evidence, suggesting early humans chased the giant sloths.

The megatrack site – a term used to described concentrated pathways – in the White Sands are considered to be the largest known in North America from the Pleistocene era.

The tracks are remote and were bordered by the military testing range to the north to protect them against any human disturbances. The tracks will also crumble if left exposed to moisture after excavation.

Credit: Matthew Bennett/Bournemouth University

Vince Santucci the author of the study, and a Senior Paleontologist from the National Park Service, along with his colleagues, measured the pace to predict where the next footprint should be.

Santucci said, “And lo and behold, right where we anticipated they would have been, were human footprints.”

Experts around the world were invited to analyze the tracks.

Paleontologist Matthew Bennett from Bournemouth University in Britain accepted the invitation. He said that the prints were more likely belongs to humans as they have “really good toes, heels, and arches.”

(Matthew Bennett/Bournemouth University)

Paleontologist Andrew R.C. Milner, who was not part of the study, noted that the human-within-sloth prints discovery was remarkable. The age of the footprints is about 11,000 years old, or as old as the last ground sloth.

What Happened To The Ancient Humans and Giant Sloths?

It is not yet clear whether the encounter during the Pleistocene had a violent ending. Santucci and Milner were not convinced that this event likely happened since there’s no hunting evidence.

However, Matteo Belvedere, a scientist with Switzerland’s Paleontology, and Bennett believed that humans are probably preparing to kill the sloth.

Based on the position of the claw and knuckle marks, the giant ground sloth seemed to rear up on its hind leg to make a “go away” roar.

What happened next is still a mystery. The ancient human may have possibly succeeded in hunting the giant sloth. However, researchers wrote in the study that it is impossible for early humans to kill the giant sloths since they are densely muscled. It is difficult to overpower such animals, especially if you are only using a stone as a weapon.