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     Sloths are arboreal mammals noted for slowness of movement and for spending most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rainforest’s of South America and Central America. Scientific name: Folivora Daily sleep: Brown-throated sloth: 15 – 18 hours Gestation period: Pale-throated sloth: 183 days Higher classification: Pilosa Mass: Brown-throated sloth: 5 – 14 lbs, Pale-throated sloth: 8.4 – 14 lbs, Maned sloth: 9.9 – 22 lbs Length: Brown-throated sloth: 17 – 31 in., Pale-throated sloth: 20 – 30 in., Maned sloth: 1.8 – 2.5 ft.
1 General Overview
     Sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly: they have about half as much muscle tissue as other animals of similar weight. They can move at a marginally higher speed if they are in immediate danger from a predator (4.5 meters or 15 feet per minute), but they burn large amounts of energy doing so. Their specialized hands and feet have long, curved claws to allow them to hang upside-down from branches without effort. While they sometimes sit on top of branches, they usually eat, sleep, and even give birth hanging from limbs. They sometimes remain hanging from branches after death. On the ground, their maximum speed is 0.025 to 0.05 meters per second (about 5 feet per minute), but in the trees they can move at a slightly quicker speed of 0.050 to 0.083 meters per second under normal situations.      It had been thought that sloths were among the most somnolent animals, sleeping from 15 to 18 hours each day. This image has been called into question by a study examining the sleep patterns of sloths in nature and revealing that sloths sleep under just ten hours a day. They go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week. They go to the same spot each time and are vulnerable while doing so. The reason for this risky behavior is unknown.      The living sloths are omnivores. They may eat insects, small lizards, and carrion, but their diet consists mostly of buds, tender shoots, and leaves. The three-toed sloths in particular feed almost exclusively on leaves. The two-toed sloths eat fruits, nuts, berries, bark, and occasionally small rodents.      Beyond camouflage, sloths' claws serve as their only natural defense. A cornered sloth may swipe at its attackers in an effort to scare them away or wound them. Despite sloths' apparent defenselessness, predators do not pose special problems: Sloths blend in with the trees and, moving only slowly, do not attract attention. Only during their infrequent visits to ground level do they become particularly vulnerable.
2 Behavior and Ecology
     The common ancestor the two existing sloth genera dates to about 40 million years ago, and similarities between the two- and three- toed sloths is a striking example of convergent evolution.      The ancient Xenarthra included a much greater variety of species than today. Ancient sloths were not arborial but dwelled on land, and were the size of bears. The Megatherium, a widespread species was larger than an elephant.  It is thought that swimming led to oceanic dispersal of Pilosans of the Caribbean to the Antilles by the Oligocene, and that the megalonychid Pliometanastes and the mylodontid Thinobadistes were able to colonise North America about 9 million years ago, well before the existence of the Isthmus of Panama. Additionally, the nothrotheriid Thalassocnus of the west coast of South America became adapted to a semiaquatic marine lifestyle.      In Peru and Chile, sloths of the genus Thalassocnus adapted to a coastal marine lifestyle beginning in the late Miocene. Initially they just stood in the water, but over a span of four million years they eventually evolved into swimming creatures.
2.1 Evolution
The three extinct families are: Megatheriidae: aground sloths that existed for about 23 million years and went extinct about 11,000 years ago. Mylodontidae: ground sloths that existed for about 23 million years and went extinct about 11,000 years ago. Nothrotheriidae: ground sloths that lived from approximately 11.6 million to 11,000 years ago. As well as ground sloths this family included Thalassocnus, a genus of semi- or fully aquatic sloth.      Ground sloths lived in South America and, after the Great American Interchange, North America. They disappeared shortly after the appearance of humans about 10,000 years ago. Evidence suggests human hunting contributed to the extinction of the American megafauna. Ground sloth emains found in both North and South America indicate that they were killed, cooked, and eaten by humans. Climate change that came with the end of the last ice age may have also played a role. Megalocnus survived on the Antilles until about 5000 years ago, long after other ground sloths died out on the mainland, but then went extinct when human finally arrived there too.
2.2 Extinctions
3 Classification of the Sloth
     The members of the two families of living sloths, Megalonychidae and Bradypodidae, have similar adaptations, but the actual relationships of the living sloth genera are more distant from each other than their outward similarity suggests. The two-toed sloths of today are far more closely related to one particular group of ground sloths than to the living three-toed sloths. Whether these ground-dwelling Megalonychidae were descended from tree- climbing ancestors or whether the two-toed sloths are really miniature ground sloths converted (or reverted) to arboreal life cannot presently be determined to satisfaction. The latter possibility seems slightly more likely, given the fact that the small ground sloths Acratocnus and Synocnus, which were also able to climb, are among the closer relatives of the two-toed sloths, and that these together were related to the huge ground sloths Megalonyx and Megalocnus.      The evolutionary history of the three-toed sloths is not at all well-known. No particularly close relatives, ground-dwelling or not, have yet been identified.      The ground sloths do not constitute a monophyletic group. Rather, they make up a number of lineages, and as far as is known until the Holocene, most sloths were in fact ground-dwellers. The famous Megatherium, for example, belonged to a lineage of ground sloths that was not very close to the living sloths and their ground-living relatives like the small Synocnus or the massive Megalonyx. Meanwhile, Mylodon, among the last ground sloths to disappear, was only very distantly related to either of these. ORDER PILOSA Suborder Folivora Family Bradypodidae Genus Bradypus (Three-toed sloths) Pygmy Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus pygmaeus Maned Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus torquatus Pale-throated Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus tridactylus Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus variegatus Family Megalonychidae Genus Choloepus (Two-toed sloths) Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth, Choloepus didactylus Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth, Choloepus hoffmanni Suborder Vermilingua (anteaters and tamanduas)
     Sloths can be 60–80 centimeters long and, depending on species, weigh from 3.6 to 7.7 kilograms. Two-toed sloths are slightly larger. Sloths have long limbs and rounded heads with tiny ears. Three-toed sloths also have stubby tails about 5–6 cm long. While almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, two-toed sloths have only six, while three-toed sloths have nine,  allowing them to rotate their heads through 270 degrees.      Sloths have color vision, but have poor visual acuity. They also have poor hearing. Thus, they rely on their sense of smell and touch to find food.      Sloths have very low metabolic rates (less than half of that expected for a mammal of their size), and low body temperatures when active (30–34 °C or 86–93 °F), and still lower when resting. Sloths are heterothermic, meaning their body temperature may vary according to the environment, normally ranging from 25 to 35 C, but able to drop to as low as 20 C, inducing torpor.      The outer hairs of sloth fur grow in a direction opposite from that of other mammals. In most mammals, hairs grow toward the extremities, but because sloths spend so much time with their limbs above their bodies, their hairs grow away from the extremities to provide protection from the elements while they hang upside down. In most conditions, the fur hosts symbiotic algae, which provide camouflage from predatory jaguars, ocelots, and harpy eagles. Because of the algae, sloth fur is a small ecosystem of its own, hosting many species of commensal and parasitic arthropods.  There is a large number of arthropods associated with sloths. These include biting and blood-sucking flies such as mosquitoes and sandflies, triatomine bugs, lice, ticks and mites. Sloths have a highly specific community of commensal beetles, mites and moths. Species of sloths recorded to host arthropods include:[24] the pale-throated sloth, the brown-throated sloth, and Linnaeus's two-toed sloth. Incidentally, it appears that sloths benefit from their relationship with moths because the moths are responsible for fertilizing algae on the sloth, which provides them with nutrients.
3.1 Physiology
3.2 Activity
3.3 Diet 
     Their limbs are adapted for hanging and grasping, not for supporting their weight. Muscles make up only 25 to 30 percent of their total body weight. Most other mammals have a muscle mass that makes up 40 to 45 percent of the total body weight. Their specialized hands and feet have long, curved claws to allow them to hang upside down from branches without effort,  and are used to drag themselves along the ground, since they cannot walk. On three-toed sloths, the arms are 50 percent longer than the legs.      Sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly, because They usually move at an average speed of 4 m per minute, but can move at a marginally higher speed of 4.5 m (15 ft), if they are in immediate danger from a predator. While they sometimes sit on top of branches, they usually eat, sleep, and even give birth hanging from branches. They sometimes remain hanging from branches even after death. On the ground, the maximum speed of sloths is 3 m per minute. Sloths are surprisingly strong swimmers and can reach speeds of 13.5 m (45 ft) per minute. They use their long arms to paddle through the water and can cross rivers and swim between islands. Sloths can reduce their already slow metabolism even further and slow their heart rate to less than a third of normal, allowing them to hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes.      Wild brown-throated three-toed sloths sleep on average 9.6 hours a day. Two-toed sloths are nocturnal. Three-toed sloths are mostly nocturnal, but can be active in the day. They 90 per cent of the time are not motionless.
     Baby sloths learn what to eat by licking the lips of their mother. All sloths eat the leaves of the cecropia.      Two-toed sloths have a diverse diet of insects, leaves, carrion, fruits, leaves, insects, and small lizards, ranging over up to 140 hectares. Three- toed sloths, on the other hand, have a limited diet of leaves from only a few trees, and no mammal digests as slowly.      They have made adaptations to arboreal browsing. Leaves, their main food source, provide very little energy or nutrients, and do not digest easily, so sloths have large, slow-acting stomachs with multiple compartments in which symbiotic bacteria break down the tough leaves. As much as two-thirds of a well-fed sloth's body weight consists of the contents of its stomach, and the digestive process can take a month or more to complete.      Three-toed sloths go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week, digging a hole and covering it afterwards. They go to the same spot each time and are vulnerable to predation while doing so. This may be relevant for maintaining the ecosystem in the sloths' fur. Individual sloths tend to spend the bulk of their time feeding on a single "modal" tree; by burying their excreta near the trunk of that tree, they may help nourish it.  Recent research shows that moths, which live in the sloth's fur, lay eggs in the sloth's feces. When they hatch, the larvae feed on the feces, and when mature fly up onto the sloth above.
3.4 Reproduction
     Pale- and brown-throated species mate seasonally, while the maned sloth breeds at any time of year. The reproduction of pygmy three-toed sloths is unknown. Litters are of one newborn only, after six months' gestation for thee-toed, and 12 months' for two-toed. Newborns stay with their mother for about five months. In some cases, young sloths die from a fall indirectly because the mothers prove unwilling to leave the safety of the trees to retrieve the young. Females normally bear one baby every year, but sometimes sloths' low level of movement actually keeps females from finding males for longer than one year. Sloths are not particularly sexually dimorphic and several zoos have received sloths of the wrong sex.
4 Human Interactions
     The majority of recorded sloth deaths in Costa Rica are due to contact with electrical lines and poachers. Their claws also provide another, unexpected deterrent to human hunters; when hanging upside-down in a tree, they are held in place by the claws themselves and often do not fall down even if shot from below.      Sloths are victims of animal trafficking where they are sold as pets. However they make very poor pets as they have such a specialized ecology.      The founder and director of the Green Heritage Fund Suriname, Monique Pool, has helped rescue and release more than 600 sloths, anteaters, armadillos, and porcupines.      The Sloth Institute Costa Rica is known for caring, rehabilitating and releasing sloths back into the wild.  Also in Costa Rica, the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary cares for sloths. It rehabilitated and released about 130 individuals back into the wild.
Encyclopedia Britannica Encyclopedia of Life Animal Diversity Xenartharns The taxonomic position and evolutionary relationships of Trypanosoma rangeli Dwarfism in insular sloths: biogeography, selection, and evolutionary rate Recent advances on variability, morpho-functional adaptations, dental terminology, and evolution of sloths Wikipedia New World Encyclopedia
5 References
 
The Sloth Guy
Copyright © 2018, The Sloth Guy and/or its subsidiaries or affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
The Sloth Guy and certain product names/logos/images used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Sloth Guy and/or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates in the U.S. and/or other countries.
Powered by
  

What Is A Sloth …..

     Sloths are arboreal mammals noted for slowness of movement and for spending most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rainforest’s of South America and Central America. Scientific name: Folivora Daily sleep: Brown-throated sloth: 15 – 18 hours Gestation period: Pale-throated sloth: 183 days Higher classification: Pilosa Mass: Brown-throated sloth: 5 – 14 lbs, Pale-throated sloth: 8.4 – 14 lbs, Maned sloth: 9.9 – 22 lbs Length: Brown-throated sloth: 17 – 31 in., Pale-throated sloth: 20 – 30 in., Maned sloth: 1.8 – 2.5 ft.
1 General Overview
     Sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly: they have about half as much muscle tissue as other animals of similar weight. They can move at a marginally higher speed if they are in immediate danger from a predator (4.5 meters or 15 feet per minute), but they burn large amounts of energy doing so. Their specialized hands and feet have long, curved claws to allow them to hang upside- down from branches without effort. While they sometimes sit on top of branches, they usually eat, sleep, and even give birth hanging from limbs. They sometimes remain hanging from branches after death. On the ground, their maximum speed is 0.025 to 0.05 meters per second (about 5 feet per minute), but in the trees they can move at a slightly quicker speed of 0.050 to 0.083 meters per second under normal situations.      It had been thought that sloths were among the most somnolent animals, sleeping from 15 to 18 hours each day. This image has been called into question by a study examining the sleep patterns of sloths in nature and revealing that sloths sleep under just ten hours a day. They go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week. They go to the same spot each time and are vulnerable while doing so. The reason for this risky behavior is unknown.      The living sloths are omnivores. They may eat insects, small lizards, and carrion, but their diet consists mostly of buds, tender shoots, and leaves. The three-toed sloths in particular feed almost exclusively on leaves. The two-toed sloths eat fruits, nuts, berries, bark, and occasionally small rodents.      Beyond camouflage, sloths' claws serve as their only natural defense. A cornered sloth may swipe at its attackers in an effort to scare them away or wound them. Despite sloths' apparent defenselessness, predators do not pose special problems: Sloths blend in with the trees and, moving only slowly, do not attract attention. Only during their infrequent visits to ground level do they become particularly vulnerable.
2 Behavior and Ecology
     The common ancestor the two existing sloth genera dates to about 40 million years ago, and similarities between the two- and three- toed sloths is a striking example of convergent evolution.      The ancient Xenarthra included a much greater variety of species than today. Ancient sloths were not arborial but dwelled on land, and were the size of bears. The Megatherium, a widespread species was larger than an elephant.  It is thought that swimming led to oceanic dispersal of Pilosans of the Caribbean to the Antilles by the Oligocene, and that the megalonychid Pliometanastes and the mylodontid Thinobadistes were able to colonise North America about 9 million years ago, well before the existence of the Isthmus of Panama. Additionally, the nothrotheriid Thalassocnus of the west coast of South America became adapted to a semiaquatic marine lifestyle.      In Peru and Chile, sloths of the genus Thalassocnus adapted to a coastal marine lifestyle beginning in the late Miocene. Initially they just stood in the water, but over a span of four million years they eventually evolved into swimming creatures.
2.1 Evolution
The three extinct families are: Megatheriidae: aground sloths that existed for about 23 million years and went extinct about 11,000 years ago. Mylodontidae: ground sloths that existed for about 23 million years and went extinct about 11,000 years ago. Nothrotheriidae: ground sloths that lived from approximately 11.6 million to 11,000 years ago. As well as ground sloths this family included Thalassocnus, a genus of semi- or fully aquatic sloth.      Ground sloths lived in South America and, after the Great American Interchange, North America. They disappeared shortly after the appearance of humans about 10,000 years ago. Evidence suggests human hunting contributed to the extinction of the American megafauna. Ground sloth emains found in both North and South America indicate that they were killed, cooked, and eaten by humans. Climate change that came with the end of the last ice age may have also played a role. Megalocnus survived on the Antilles until about 5000 years ago, long after other ground sloths died out on the mainland, but then went extinct when human finally arrived there too.
2.2 Extinctions
3 Classification of the Sloth
     The members of the two families of living sloths, Megalonychidae and Bradypodidae, have similar adaptations, but the actual relationships of the living sloth genera are more distant from each other than their outward similarity suggests. The two-toed sloths of today are far more closely related to one particular group of ground sloths than to the living three-toed sloths. Whether these ground-dwelling Megalonychidae were descended from tree-climbing ancestors or whether the two-toed sloths are really miniature ground sloths converted (or reverted) to arboreal life cannot presently be determined to satisfaction. The latter possibility seems slightly more likely, given the fact that the small ground sloths Acratocnus and Synocnus, which were also able to climb, are among the closer relatives of the two-toed sloths, and that these together were related to the huge ground sloths Megalonyx and Megalocnus.      The evolutionary history of the three-toed sloths is not at all well- known. No particularly close relatives, ground-dwelling or not, have yet been identified.      The ground sloths do not constitute a monophyletic group. Rather, they make up a number of lineages, and as far as is known until the Holocene, most sloths were in fact ground-dwellers. The famous Megatherium, for example, belonged to a lineage of ground sloths that was not very close to the living sloths and their ground-living relatives like the small Synocnus or the massive Megalonyx. Meanwhile, Mylodon, among the last ground sloths to disappear, was only very distantly related to either of these. ORDER PILOSA Suborder Folivora Family Bradypodidae Genus Bradypus (Three-toed sloths) Pygmy Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus pygmaeus Maned Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus torquatus Pale-throated Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus tridactylus Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Bradypus variegatus Family Megalonychidae Genus Choloepus (Two-toed sloths) Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth, Choloepus didactylus Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth, Choloepus hoffmanni Suborder Vermilingua (anteaters and tamanduas)
     Sloths can be 60–80 centimeters long and, depending on species, weigh from 3.6 to 7.7 kilograms. Two-toed sloths are slightly larger. Sloths have long limbs and rounded heads with tiny ears. Three-toed sloths also have stubby tails about 5–6 cm long. While almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, two-toed sloths have only six, while three-toed sloths have nine,  allowing them to rotate their heads through 270 degrees.      Sloths have color vision, but have poor visual acuity. They also have poor hearing. Thus, they rely on their sense of smell and touch to find food.      Sloths have very low metabolic rates (less than half of that expected for a mammal of their size), and low body temperatures when active (30–34 °C or 86–93 °F), and still lower when resting. Sloths are heterothermic, meaning their body temperature may vary according to the environment, normally ranging from 25 to 35 C, but able to drop to as low as 20 C, inducing torpor.      The outer hairs of sloth fur grow in a direction opposite from that of other mammals. In most mammals, hairs grow toward the extremities, but because sloths spend so much time with their limbs above their bodies, their hairs grow away from the extremities to provide protection from the elements while they hang upside down. In most conditions, the fur hosts symbiotic algae, which provide camouflage from predatory jaguars, ocelots, and harpy eagles. Because of the algae, sloth fur is a small ecosystem of its own, hosting many species of commensal and parasitic arthropods.  There is a large number of arthropods associated with sloths. These include biting and blood-sucking flies such as mosquitoes and sandflies, triatomine bugs, lice, ticks and mites. Sloths have a highly specific community of commensal beetles, mites and moths. Species of sloths recorded to host arthropods include:[24] the pale-throated sloth, the brown-throated sloth, and Linnaeus's two-toed sloth. Incidentally, it appears that sloths benefit from their relationship with moths because the moths are responsible for fertilizing algae on the sloth, which provides them with nutrients.
3.1 Physiology
3.2 Activity
3.3 Diet 
     Their limbs are adapted for hanging and grasping, not for supporting their weight. Muscles make up only 25 to 30 percent of their total body weight. Most other mammals have a muscle mass that makes up 40 to 45 percent of the total body weight. Their specialized hands and feet have long, curved claws to allow them to hang upside down from branches without effort,  and are used to drag themselves along the ground, since they cannot walk. On three-toed sloths, the arms are 50 percent longer than the legs.      Sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly, because They usually move at an average speed of 4 m per minute, but can move at a marginally higher speed of 4.5 m (15 ft), if they are in immediate danger from a predator. While they sometimes sit on top of branches, they usually eat, sleep, and even give birth hanging from branches. They sometimes remain hanging from branches even after death. On the ground, the maximum speed of sloths is 3 m per minute. Sloths are surprisingly strong swimmers and can reach speeds of 13.5 m (45 ft) per minute. They use their long arms to paddle through the water and can cross rivers and swim between islands. Sloths can reduce their already slow metabolism even further and slow their heart rate to less than a third of normal, allowing them to hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes.      Wild brown-throated three-toed sloths sleep on average 9.6 hours a day. Two-toed sloths are nocturnal. Three-toed sloths are mostly nocturnal, but can be active in the day. They 90 per cent of the time are not motionless.
     Baby sloths learn what to eat by licking the lips of their mother. All sloths eat the leaves of the cecropia.      Two-toed sloths have a diverse diet of insects, leaves, carrion, fruits, leaves, insects, and small lizards, ranging over up to 140 hectares. Three- toed sloths, on the other hand, have a limited diet of leaves from only a few trees, and no mammal digests as slowly.      They have made adaptations to arboreal browsing. Leaves, their main food source, provide very little energy or nutrients, and do not digest easily, so sloths have large, slow-acting stomachs with multiple compartments in which symbiotic bacteria break down the tough leaves. As much as two-thirds of a well-fed sloth's body weight consists of the contents of its stomach, and the digestive process can take a month or more to complete.      Three-toed sloths go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week, digging a hole and covering it afterwards. They go to the same spot each time and are vulnerable to predation while doing so. This may be relevant for maintaining the ecosystem in the sloths' fur. Individual sloths tend to spend the bulk of their time feeding on a single "modal" tree; by burying their excreta near the trunk of that tree, they may help nourish it.  Recent research shows that moths, which live in the sloth's fur, lay eggs in the sloth's feces. When they hatch, the larvae feed on the feces, and when mature fly up onto the sloth above.
     Pale- and brown-throated species mate seasonally, while the maned sloth breeds at any time of year. The reproduction of pygmy three-toed sloths is unknown. Litters are of one newborn only, after six months' gestation for thee- toed, and 12 months' for two-toed. Newborns stay with their mother for about five months. In some cases, young sloths die from a fall indirectly because the mothers prove unwilling to leave the safety of the trees to retrieve the young. Females normally bear one baby every year, but sometimes sloths' low level of movement actually keeps females from finding males for longer than one year. Sloths are not particularly sexually dimorphic and several zoos have received sloths of the wrong sex.
3.4 Reproduction
4 Human Interactions
     The majority of recorded sloth deaths in Costa Rica are due to contact with electrical lines and poachers. Their claws also provide another, unexpected deterrent to human hunters; when hanging upside-down in a tree, they are held in place by the claws themselves and often do not fall down even if shot from below.      Sloths are victims of animal trafficking where they are sold as pets. However they make very poor pets as they have such a specialized ecology.      The founder and director of the Green Heritage Fund Suriname, Monique Pool, has helped rescue and release more than 600 sloths, anteaters, armadillos, and porcupines.      The Sloth Institute Costa Rica is known for caring, rehabilitating and releasing sloths back into the wild.  Also in Costa Rica, the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary cares for sloths. It rehabilitated and released about 130 individuals back into the wild.
Encyclopedia Britannica Encyclopedia of Life Animal Diversity Xenartharns The taxonomic position and evolutionary relationships of Trypanosoma rangeli Dwarfism in insular sloths: biogeography, selection, and evolutionary rate Recent advances on variability, morpho-functional adaptations, dental terminology, and evolution of sloths Wikipedia New World Encyclopedia
5 References


What Is A Sloth …..

The Sloth Guy