Friday, September 3, 2010

Creature Feature: Three-toed Sloth.

This is my punishment for being so damn slow on these things: Friday's 'take it easy' animal is the Three-Toed Sloth.

(Not the yukkuri.)

How the hell did evolution create this? If a chicken can cross a road, surely a three-toed sloth (genus Bradypus) can. It's flat and slow enough to be mistaken for roadkill.

Sloths were not originally the laziest creatures in the world. They used to be gigantic beasts that gave the African elephant a run for its money as the world's largest land mammal. Like elephants, these mammals were herbivorous, but may have had some animal protein mixed into their diet; several of their adaptations resemble those in carnivorids. (This is controversial, but since the idea of a GIANT carnivore is so intimidating, nature programs capitalize on it.)

Holy ****.

Humans suck, Pleistocene megafauna varies inversely with human activity, BLAH BLAH BLAH. You've heard my shpiel on this before. There are a few rumors of this creature still roaming the Amazon, but the end result of this massive sloth extinction was particularly pathetic.

Sloths went from being massive badasses to creatures that sleep 15-20 hours a day. This thing is so slow that algae grows in its fur as it hangs, day after day, in the treetops of the Amazon. The algal growth provides excellent camouflage; as the animal stays nearly motionless in the treetops, it resembles a pile of dead leaves.

Or Chewbacca's long lost cousin with different teeth.

Three-toed sloths only leave the trees to take a crap; they also urinate more when it rains. That's a lot of timing required to go to the bathroom! It gets weirder: Like naked mole rats, three-toed sloths have extremely slow metabolisms and little to no internal temperature regulation. This makes them akin to big, fuzzy reptiles.

Nobody knows when three-toed sloths mate, but science's best guess is between March-February. Once born, the baby sloth stays attached to its mother's nipple for nine months; it drinks what little milk there is as soon as it is produced.

Born to climb.

1 comment:

  1. but baby sloths are so cuuuute.

    There was an article a while back (maybe on Tet Zoo?) about two-toed sloths reportedly haunting latrines... to feed

    O__o and I always liked them best before that