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Interspecies Conflict/Giant Ground Sloth vs White Rhino


Hi again BK

On Wikipedia it states that the Giant Ground Sloth Megatherium weighed 4 tons and was considered rhino sized. My question is that, if the giant ground sloth megatherium did battle with a white rhino who would emerge the victor?

Thank You

Hello Trish.

Megatherium vs White Rhino: If we use a 4-ton Megatherium (some sources state the giant ground sloth could reach up to 5 tons in weight), it will weigh the same as a maximum-sized white rhinoceros (which typically weighs close to 2 1/2 tons).  At equal weights the Megatherium (when standing upright) will stand over twice as tall as the white rhino's shoulder height.  The Megatherium is armed with extremely powerful forelimbs with large claws at the ends.  Using these to swipe at an opponent gives Megatherium a potent arsenal.  Megatherium's skin is very tough (armor similar to chain mail formed by small pieces of bone joined together), and offers protection from attack.  Because Megatherium was sometimes preyed upon by Smilodon (plausible if the big cats attacked in groups), there had to be a way to breach this tough hide with enough effort.  In a battle with a white rhino, the Megatherium will likely be on the defensive because its mobility will be limited.  White rhinos are very formidable animals with tank-like builds and tough hides of their own.  They have 2 nose horns, and the longer one at the end can be a devastating weapon in a conflict.  A white rhino can make powerful charges and lunges with a great deal of force, and even though the horn might not easily penetrate the hide of the Megatherium, internal injuries may occur (especially with repeated attacks).  The only modern-day land animal that can seriously challenge or defeat a white rhino is the elephant (or another white rhino).  The Megatherium and the white rhino both have tough hides (and will be hard to injure) and good offensive weaponry, but the major difference in this fight will be mobility.  The white rhino will be able to move with greater ease and speed, and that will give it an advantage in attacking and defending.  Megatherium will need a decent weight advantage (at least 20%) to offset the white rhino's maneuverability.  A 4-ton Megatherium will have the edge over a typical 2 1/2 ton white rhino, but not one that weighs as much as it does.  Assuming equal weights, edge to white rhino.

Interesting matchup!

Best regards.  

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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