Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000 Page: 81
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The Ice Age Megafauna of Colorado County, Texas
Glyptodons (Glyptodon sp.) were armored beasts. Some fossil forms indicate
that they were almost as large as present-day bears. Their external protection was far more
elaborate than that of modern armadillos. Their body was boxed into a heavy shell while both
the head and tail bore shielding plates of bony material. A fossilized skute from one of these
ponderous creatures was discovered on the Tait Ranch south of Columbus around 1990 by
St. Anthony School science teacher Tracey Wegenhoft on a field trip with her students.
Ground sloths (Glossotherium sp., Megalonyx sp., Megatherium sp.), some
as large as elephants, were ponderous hairy vegetarians, eating mostly leaves of shrubs and
trees. Bodily features included heads proportionately small for their immense bodies and
massive curved claws. Their remains have been found in widely scattered sites in the Colo-
rado County area: in Bee, Harris, Kenedy, Polk, San Jacinto, and San Patricio Counties, as
well as on the Edwards Plateau.
Mammalian Order RODENTIA (Rodents)
Mouse- and rat-sized rodents, as their descendants are today, must then have
been common denizens of both open lands and forested sectors. Fossils of skulls and limb
bones, because of inconspicuousness and small size, are rarely noticed in scattered Ice Age
fossil beds. Paleontologists know most about a big rodent, an extinct relative of the modern
capybara. The extinct capybara (Neochoerus sp.) was truly a gigantic rodent, weighing
even more than its modern 100-pound South American relative. However, they appear to be
somewhat alike in appearance, both having heavy-bodied pig-like frames with blunt heads.
Fossils of this massive creature have been found in deposits in Harris and San Patricio
Mammalian Order CARNIVORA (Carnivores)
Colorado County, in Ice Age times had more than its share of large meat-
eaters. No doubt they survived at that time because of the vast array of available prey
species: capybaras, tapirs, horses, peccaries, camels, pronghorns, bison plus the hardy mod-
em-day survivor, the white-tailed deer. No doubt these carnivores also found fair game in
the young of heavy-bodied adult ground sloths, mastodons, and mammoths. Some paleon-
tologists have suggested that saber-toothed carnivores, which certainly were present in Colo-
rado County, might even have been able to inflict lethal wounds on adult specimens of these
larger mammals by stabbing them with their long upper canines. Fossilized bones of Ice Age
carnivores deposited along the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain include a large wolf, two kinds of
bears, and at least three kinds of formidable cats, all much larger than Texas mountain lions.
The dire wolf (Canis sp.) was a large counterpart of its modern relatives, wolves
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000, periodical, July 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151409/m1/17/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.