National museum featuring creatures of the Ice Age

The Museo Nacional is exhibiting creatures that lived in Costa Rica up until about 11,500 years ago.

These are the giant megafauna that are now extinct.

The exhibit, Megafauna — fósiles de Costa Rica, opens Friday and will be available until April. The exhibit featured life-size illustrations of the creatures as well as fossils that have been turning up since the 1930s.

The Pleistocene in Costa Rica is not as well known as the more modern native cultures and the emblematic stone spheres of the southern Pacific coast.

Yet there were modern humans here perhaps as early as 40,000 years ago. Some scientists think they were here much, much earlier.

Some of the animals were up to five meters tall and weighed five tons. One of the best recreations of an extinct giant ground sloth greets visitors entering the Sloth Sanctuary on the southern Caribbean coast.

Much smaller relatives of the megatherium and Eremotherium still are munching away slowly in the Costa Rican trees.

A lot of scientists say they think that humans brought the large animals to extinction by hunting them. One of the creatures in the exhibit is the toxodon, a 3,000-pound mammal that looked like a rhinoceros.

Fossils of this animal have been found elsewhere associated with arrowheads.

The museum also is featuring the well-known mastodon, a relative of the elephant; the glyptodon, a relative of armadillos, and the mylodon, another type of ground sloth.

Pleistocene fast food: Humans hunting a glyptodon by the late Heinrich Harder

Pleistocene fast food: Humans hunting a glyptodon by the late Heinrich Harder

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