Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument
|Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument|
|Location||Magallanes Region, Chile|
|Coordinates||51°33′56″S 72°37′11″W / 51.56556°S 72.61972°WCoordinates: 51°33′56″S 72°37′11″W / 51.56556°S 72.61972°W|
|Governing body||Corporación Nacional Forestal|
Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument is a Natural Monument located in the Chilean Patagonia, 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Puerto Natales and 270 km (168 mi) north of Punta Arenas. The monument is situated along the flanks of Cerro Benitez. It comprises several caves and a rock formation called Silla del Diablo (Devil's Chair). The monument includes a cave which is notable for the discovery in 1895 of skin, bones and other parts of a giant ground sloth called Mylodon darwini.
The largest cave in the monument is the 200 metres (660 ft) long Milodón Cave. It was discovered in 1895 by Hermann Eberhard, German explorer of Patagonia. He found a large, seemingly fresh piece of skin of an unidentified animal. In 1896 the cave was explored by Otto Nordenskjöld and later it was recognized that the skin belonged to Mylodon - an extinct animal which died 10,200 - 13,560 years ago.
In the cave and other caves of the monument have been found remnants of other extinct animals and human remnants.
At the entrance of the monument is a life size replica of the prehistoric Mylodon, which was a very large herbivore, somewhat resembling a large bear. It became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch.
Investigations determined the survival of the Milodon until about 5,000 years ago and confirmed the existence of other animals, such as the "Dwarf Horse" Hippidion, the saber-toothed cat Smilodon and the litoptern Macrauchenia
Diverse elements of human habitation are found at Cueva del Milodón including fire-fractured rock, lithic tools and human remains. Human habitation at Cueva del Milodón is dated as early as 6000 BC.