Remains of a giant Ground Sloth and a bison have been discovered in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the discovery was made on May 16th when workers were digging a new railway tunnel in the city. Workers were surprised to see the Fossils in a sandy clay layer, about 16 feet below Crenshaw Boulevard, between 63rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard.

The specimens were sent to Paleo Solutions Laboratory, where they were stabilized and prepared by the staff. Researchers at La Brea Tar Pits and Museum then took eight days to identify the fossils as the fragment of a bison's radius bone and the hip bone of a ground sloth.

Harlan's ground sloth

Metro officials particularly described the discovery of sloth fossil as “amazing” considering it may belong to Harlan’s ground sloth. Harlan's ground sloth was a massive animal, characterized by a broad chest and forelimbs, stout hind limbs, elongated head, short neck, and a large tail.

These animals were huge in size, weighing up to 1,500 pounds and growing about 10 feet long. Fossils of Herlan’s ground sloth have mainly been found in areas that were open grasslands or parklands. A few remains that have been unearthed from desert areas are associated with the presence of some source of permanent water body in that region. Scientists also believe that Harlan's ground sloth was a herbivore and grazed mainly on grasses and sedges.

According to scientists, the bison and ground sloth probably lived in late Pleistocene era, about 11,000 to 40,000 years ago, before becoming extinct about 10,000 years ago. Mammoths, mastodons and massive camels are some other ancient large mammals that got extinct during the same period, after the last ice age.

Third instance of fossils discovery in the past six months

This is the third instance, in the past six months, of unearthing of fossils of beasts by workers digging for Los Angeles rail system expansion. In November last year remains (a tusk, skull, and tooth fragments) of a mastodon were recovered from Wilshire and La Brea Avenue in the Miracle Mile District while digging for Purple Line expansion.

In April this year, workers found fossils of some big animals under Wilshire Boulevard. One of the remains was identified as a 20-inch long radioulnar (forearm bone) of an extinct camel species. The other bone, about 36 inches long, was likely a femur and belonged to an Ice Age elephant, either a mastodon or a mammoth.

The fossils found on May 16 are currently held at Paleo Solutions laboratory and will eventually be shifted to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for public display.