Giant Armadillos and Ground Sloths came to North America from the south during the interchange. Like most “megafauna,” they became extinct around 11,000 years ago, but are common in fossil deposits today.


Giant Armadillo Skull (Holmesina floridanus)
From Citrus Co., Florida
Lived ~1.8 million years ago

Giant Ground Sloth Skull and Claw (Paramylodon harlani)
From Hillsborough Co., Florida
Lived ~1.3 million years ago


Vertebrate Paleontology


So paleontologists know that certain animals evolved in South America millions of years ago and after the formation of the Isthmus of Panama certain groups of those animals migrated northward. So the cool thing about Florida is that we have lots of fossils from the animals that came from South America into North America, and these are found at literally hundreds of localities throughout our state and are represented by animals like the giant armadillo and ground sloths.

Bruce MacFadden
Curator, Vertebrate Paleontology*
Distinguished Professor*
Florida Museum of Natural History


On display Sept. 23, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018, Rare, Beautiful & Fascinating: 100 Years @FloridaMuseum celebrated the Museum’s rich history. Each Museum collection was asked to contribute its most interesting items and share the stories that make them special. Though the physical exhibit is closed, this companion website remains online, providing an opportunity to experience the Florida Museum’s most treasured specimens.

Exhibit Area: Objects Tell Stories

Theme: Great American Interchange

Cover of the All Things Beautiful bookWant to see more? Explore more than 300 breathtaking color photos of plants, animals, fossils and cultural heritage materials from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s collections in the award-winning book All Things Beautiful available from the University Press of Florida.

*This title was accurate at the time the exhibit was on display in 2017. Please visit the collection website to verify current staff and student information.

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