Slothy Evolution

More slothy info for you all! Apparently, sloth evolution wasn’t so… well, SLOTHY… after all. More than 50 different sloth species used to exist! Can you imagine!!?? Now there’s only 6 left.

In times past, there was actually a trend towards sloths evolving to be LARGER over a very short period of time, but due to various unknown events in history,  the only sloths that survived to modern day are those that were small and that lived in the trees. Here’s the link to the Journal Article in BMC Evolutionary Biology, or the lay summary of sloth evolution by IFLS, or a short snippet and pics on Buzzfeed.

Lucy Cooke on Sloths

Lucy Cooke, author of A Little Book of Sloth and The Power of Sloth, wrote this awesome article for The Idler:

It wasn’t until the seventeenth century, after years of arguing, the Holy powers-that-be finally decided on its definitive top seven sins. And sloth snuggled in at number four…

It was thanks to celebrated French naturalist Georges Buffon that the moniker really stuck, when he became the first person to scientifically describe the sloth in 1749: ‘Slowness, habitual pain, and stupidity are the results of this strange and bungled conformation. These sloths are the lowest form of existence. One more defect would have made their lives impossible.’

It’s lucky the sloth is such an affable chap. And doesn’t read or speak French because, if he did, I’m sure that even he would struggle to swallow such slurs without a (very slow) fight.enhanced-buzz-wide-13671-1397213403-7


The Saturday Advertiser newspaper (yesterday) had a liftout for “The Cutest Animal Pictures of All Time”. No sloth pictures. No good. How can you have a cutest animal lineup without a cute cute CUTE CUTE sloth!!??

Luckily, there was a couple redeeming factors.

I spotted TWO “wild facts” about sloths on separate pages of the liftout. I love that sloths are newsworthy now. About time people start appreciating them! Still, wish there’d been a cute pic I could have gasped over when I saw.

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Sloth Week

SLOTH WEEK was last week! (seriously, click the link, fantastic)

slothcloseupDid You Know:

Sloths do most things upside down- eat, sleep, mate and give birth- and because of this, most of their internal organs are in a different position to other mammals.


Sloths & Moths

Scientists studying sloths have recognized a syndrome of mutualism between sloths, moths and algae, that could explain how the sloth overcomes its “laid-back” lifestyle.

We discovered that sloths consumed algae from their fur, which was highly digestible and lipid-rich. By descending a tree to defecate, sloths transport moths to their oviposition sites in sloth dung, which facilitates moth colonization of sloth fur. Moths are portals for nutrients, increasing nitrogen levels in sloth fur, which fuels algal growth. Sloths consume these algae-gardens, presumably to augment their limited diet. These linked mutualisms between moths, sloths and algae appear to aid the sloth in overcoming a highly constrained lifestyle.


The original journal paper can be downloaded from here, or you can watch this short YouTube clip explaining it in layman’s terms!


Donate and Become a Sloth!

I post a lot of pictures from Shitty Watercolour, who paints watercolours of which many involve sloths. At this moment, he is raising money by playing video games for as close to 25 hours as he can manage. If you, as I did, donate $15 or more, then he will draw you as a sloth! I can’t wait to see myself in sloth form! If you would like to support S. and the Children’s National Hospital, you can do so here. While we are waiting patiently for our sloth portraits to arrive, enjoy this short film by S. on sloth facts, together with cute little watercolours.


Did You Know?

The ancestor of the sloth, the Giant Ground Sloth which lived prior to the last ice age, reached the size of a modern elephant.


Did You Know?

Sloth hair curves in the opposite direction of most mammals: from the tummy to the back. It is usually covered with a coat of blue-green algae. This provides camouflage, making it difficult for predators, such as the jaguar, to see them.

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