In case you had any doubts, sloths have officially been declared the slowest animals on Earth. Their distinctive title was revealed around International Sloth Day, which was celebrated worldwide on October 20. The animals gain the title thanks to their slow metabolism, which remains unbeaten in the animal kingdom.
Specialists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison spent seven years studying sloths. The study concluded that the mammals are the slowest animals on Earth. Experts state that this behavior can be explained by their lack of energy. At the same time, the sloths’ organism doesn’t require much energy.
Expert Jonathan Pauli and his team of researchers were in charge of the new study. They analyzed several types of sloths with two and three toes. They compared the animals to other mammals that feed on plants and observed that three-toed sloths are unbeatable.
The new study shows that this variety of sloths only needs one hundred sixty-two kilojoules per day per kilogram of energy. The two-toed sloth needs seventy-two more kilojoules than their close relatives. The animals save their energy while they sleep, and they spend a significant part of the day doing just that: sleeping.
It is common knowledge that sloths can sleep up to twenty hours a day. They have such slow movements that they can only advance about forty yards a day. However, they also possess the remarkable ability to regulate their body temperature. This helps them save energy while they sleep.
Three-toed sloths are so slow that vegetation such as moss can grow on their back. Due to their extremely sedentary lifestyle, many insects and even algae and fungi get installed inside their thick fur.
Sloths are endangered mostly by deforestation and poaching. The animals are so slow that they can’t escape the felling of the trees they cling on.
Today there are two families of sloths, including six species, but in the past, they were much more numerous. Historical evidence accounts for no less than fifty species. The mammals have gigantic ancestors that could reach eight thousand pounds. Their sizes were impressive, even more, if considering the fact that the animals were plant-eaters, just like today.
Sloth species used to live both on land and water. As a matter of fact, modern-day sloths still can hold their breath underwater and swim.
Sloths have long claws which are quite similar to that of anteaters. Also, more often than not, we picture them on trees. What other features of sloths can you think of?
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia