💰 BBC - Earth - The truth about sloths

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If the sloth drops below 50 mph, the sloth blows up.


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What better way to mark International Sloth Day (20 October) than to kick back and celebrate a few records held by these speed-challenged.


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Sloths have a reputation for being lazy, stupid and smelly. Ritual defecation is the sloth equivalent of speed dating, just without the speed.


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What better way to mark International Sloth Day (20 October) than to kick back and celebrate a few records held by these speed-challenged.


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Sloths have a reputation for being lazy, stupid and smelly. Ritual defecation is the sloth equivalent of speed dating, just without the speed.


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If the sloth drops below 50 mph, the sloth blows up.


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Found in Central and South America, sloths call the tall trees their home, their metabolism to make their heart rate a third of its normal speed.


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If the sloth drops below 50 mph, the sloth blows up.


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Found in Central and South America, sloths call the tall trees their home, their metabolism to make their heart rate a third of its normal speed.


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Sloths have a reputation for being lazy, stupid and smelly. Ritual defecation is the sloth equivalent of speed dating, just without the speed.


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This behaviour is much more typical of cold-blooded animals — lizards and other reptiles — than it is of other mammals. The thermo-regulation that most mammals have to do requires a lot of energy — Camila Mazzoni. For the most part, they live high in the branches of the forests which stretch across Central and South America, only coming down to the ground to defecate. Just why sloths move so slowly is due to some peculiar evolutionary tricks. The young attach themselves close to the nipple, and then feed as the milk dribbles out. In order to fuel this energy-hungry system, mammals need to eat a lot and often to keep the muscles needed for movement warm. But over countless generations they have arrived at a pace of life perfectly suited to their environment. But this hot-blooded evolutional trick has a few drawbacks as well. Many scientists are trying to figure that out. What are these algae good for? By Stephen Dowling 29th August Sloths do everything in slow motion — even blinking. It might be tempting to assume that the animals have become so sedentary that they have become home to moss and algae from the trees around them. Sloths spend most of their lives in trees, away from rainforest predators Credit: Getty Images. But why did they evolve to live their lives at such a slow pace? Sloths have fewer parasites than other mammals of a similar size. Giant sloths, some that would weigh up to several tonnes, walked on the ground during the last ice age until around 11, years ago, foraging from the trees by standing up on their hind legs to reach into the foliage. Because of this they have to have a very slow metabolic rate to cope with this low calorific intake. This endothermic adaptation has allowed mammals to colonise most of the environments on Earth — including the freezing cold expanses of both poles. Having said that, the two-toed sloth is a bit more flexible, and will go a bit higher into the mountains in Costa Rica. You have to spend a lot of time out in [the] field to see one. Modern-day sloths — the three-toed sloth and the two-toed sloth — are much smaller versions of the sloths that inhabited the prehistoric world. If a human and a sloth had an arms wrestle, the sloth would definitely win. Look closely at a sloth and its fur will often also have a green shade to it. Being a mammal has its benefits. Capable of regulating their body temperature internally, they can live in colder climates — much colder than reptiles or other cold-blooded animals. Among the other hallmarks of mammalian life that sloths have dispensed with is the amount of milk nursing mothers produce for their offspring. The howler monkeys that live in the forests sleep for up to 18 hours a day, and the sloths only sleep for around Had sloths not ended up living in a hot, humid environment covered in trees, they might be sprightlier, living at a quicker pace. And the life they lead is very much in slow motion. But this misses something far more fascinating, says Mazzoni. A sloth's diet of leaves is nurtitionally poor and low in calories Credit: Getty Images. But they do have the most incredibly strong arms. All six species of sloths live in tropical forests. Share using Email. Around the BBC.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} The green algae and fungi could help sloths blend in to the background of the forest canopy. Baby sloths must constantly suckle because the mother only produces tiny amounts of milk at a time Credit: Getty Images. But elsewhere, some mammals have abandoned the endothermic traits that evolution has gifted them. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}Sloths, as their name betrays, have little need to rush. The fungal growths may also help keep down the number of parasites.