About Prehistoric Aquatic Sloths (Thalossocnus)
The hero of Shifter's Storm (Ice Age Shifters Book 5) is Dauro de Mar, a shifter trapped in a fairy fantasyland. His animal side is an extinct aquatic sloth (Thalassocnus) from the Ice Age. As you might imagine, this quite surprised his elephant-seal shifter parents. When the story opens, he's been the long-time captive of a greedy fairy who collected exotic aquatic shifters for. She forced all her collection to stay in their animal forms to make it harder for them to escape. Which meant Dauro, the first of the collection, has been stuck in his furry side for many years. Sloths are fascinating creatures to begin with, so it was great fun learning all about prehistoric aquatic sloths.
Gentle Giant Marine Sloths
Fossils of prehistoric ground sloths are common in North America. This is largely thanks to the La Brea Tar Pits and other geological features that trapped and preserved hapless creatures that got stuck in them. Such as giant sloths in the Megatherium genus. Based on the fossil record, sloths found comfortable habitats all over South America. Aquatic sloths, even bigger than their terrestrial cousins, thrived in what is now Chile, Peru, and Argentina. Thanks to large collection of bones (but few complete skeletons), we know at least four or five species probably made their living in shallow coastal waters.
Much like contemporary water-loving mammals such as beavers and otters, giant aquatic sloths had thicker, heavier bones to keep them from floating. Current thinking is that later prehistoric aquatic sloths mostly lived in the sea, the way that manatees do today and sea cows did before humans hunted them to extinction. An aquatic sloth's long, wicked-looking claws were likely for digging up sea grasses to eat. Their teeth and jaw structure suggest they were vegetarian.
Artistic License for Aquatic Sloths
Bones don't tell us much about the organs, muscles, and appearance details of any creature. This is where I, the author, get to use my artistic license for telling Dauro's story. I gave him long, brown, beaver-like fur that keeps him warm (he's built for the Ice Age, after all) and sheds water quickly. Membranes protect his eyes and flaps keep water from going up his nose. He's about 12 feet (3.6 m) long and weighs about 200 pounds (90 kg). I also assumed a bit of shifter magic for Dauro's sloth side to tolerate both salt and fresh water. It could even be true. 😉
Since modern sloths are usually peace-loving creatures, I gave that trait to Dauro. And because I'm an evil author-person, I also put him in a situation where he had to become both a fighter and a leader to survive. He never realizes until he meets Chantal Hammond, a resourceful leopard-shifter, that his perfect mate would be someone who doesn't depend on him.
Credits: Thalassocnus (aquatic sloth) illustration by Nyssa Juneau.
Shifter's Storm (Ice Age Shifters Book 5)
In a dying fairy fantasyland, can two shifters tell if the magic between them is real?
While volunteering for hurricane cleanup, sheriff’s deputy and leopard shifter Chantal Hammond stumbles across two escapees from a fairy fantasyland. Unfortunately, when she tries to help, she ends up trapped. She quickly discovers she's lost in a mini-world of trouble, and more captives need rescuing.
Prehistoric sloth shifter Dauro de Mar and his friends have cruelly been imprisoned in their animal forms for years. His plan to lead the escape is mostly wishful thinking until an intoxicating and magical leopard shifter arrives still in her human form. She's their game changer.
It's going to take Chantal's and Dauro's combined skills, magic, and courage to evade evil hunters and greedy fairies, and get everyone out of this mess. Especially since the fairy fantasyland is disintegrating. Can they fight off danger—and their sizzling attraction—long enough to win their freedom? Or will they be destroyed by the mother of all storms when this magical land dies?
Find out today in Shifter's Storm, another sizzling hot Ice Age Shifters® paranormal romance from USA TODAY bestselling author Carol Van Natta.
Shifter's Storm is a complete story with an HEA and no cliffhanger, and can be enjoyed without having read the rest of the series.