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smiley_face
135412.  Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:56 am Reply with quote

If I remember correctly, the symbiotic bacteria which live on sloths was mentioned in an episode of QI before - it is the presence of these bacteria on the fur on the animals which give them their green tinge.

Sloths can be divided into two families - the "three-toed" sloth and the "two-toed" sloth, the latter in fact having three toes. The "two-toed" name comes from the fact they have two fingers as opposed to three. The two-toed sloth is more agressive than it's three-toed counterpart, and is likely to bite with its self-sharpening canines. In contrast, the three-toed sloth would make a suitable pet, but its status as an endangered species prevents sloths from being pets outside of South America.

Unlike many other animals, their fur grows from their stomach round to their back, so they should be "stroked" the other way.

Sloths do not have incisors. Instead, they use their hard lips to cut the leaves they eat.

Sloths have a very slow metabolism due to the fact they move so slowly, and as a result of this, only defecate once or twice a week.

Sources: Wikipedia, Sloth Scientific Classification (which uses Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals, Volume 2, McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990, Sybil P. Parker, Editor), Sloth World

 
Slapsack
137995.  Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:05 am Reply with quote

smiley_face wrote:
Sloths have a very slow metabolism due to the fact they move so slowly, and as a result of this, only defecate once or twice a week.


I remember seeing a documentary on Slothís when I was a young whippersnapper (Life on Earth maybe) when they do perform this weekly/bi-weekly task, they climb all the way down to the bottom of the tree to defecate on the same pile as per the previous weeks (Thatís one big pile of sh*t!)

These kinds of things stick in your mind then you are a child. Good old fashioned toilet humour, canít beat it at that age.

 
indigo fugit
138108.  Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:45 am Reply with quote

Slapsack wrote:
smiley_face wrote:
Sloths have a very slow metabolism due to the fact they move so slowly, and as a result of this, only defecate once or twice a week.


I remember seeing a documentary on Slothís when I was a young whippersnapper (Life on Earth maybe) when they do perform this weekly/bi-weekly task, they climb all the way down to the bottom of the tree to defecate on the same pile as per the previous weeks (Thatís one big pile of sh*t!)

These kinds of things stick in your mind then you are a child. Good old fashioned toilet humour, canít beat it at that age.


I saw a similar programme where the sloth, once a week came down the tree backwards until he was directly over his previous pile of doo doo. Looking just like a fastidious person in a public toilet he hovered 2 inches above and then did his business.

While this was happening parasites were jumping from his fur, and laying eggs on his fresh doo doo, and then jumping back onto him. At the same time eggs laid on a previous dump had hatched and were leaping aboard for their first trip skywards. This I know to be true as the camera zoomed in and you could plainly see the event taking place.

At the time, the presenter claimed that the 3 toed sloth had 9 vertebrae and the 2 toed sloth had 5 vertebrae in their necks.
This was years ago (colour tv was just coming in) and I was sceptical as to whether this could be true. Why would every other mammal have 7 and the poor sloth be different?

I thought that a possible reason would be that the bones in the neck had fused together to give a count of 5, but even that would not explain the 3 toed sloth with his 9 neck bones.

For over 40 years this has been at the back of my mind and I have never been able to resolve it one way or the other.

Do you know who could give a definitive answer on this ?

 
Slapsack
138260.  Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:24 pm Reply with quote

indigo fugit wrote:
I thought that a possible reason would be that the bones in the neck had fused together to give a count of 5, but even that would not explain the 3 toed sloth with his 9 neck bones.

For over 40 years this has been at the back of my mind and I have never been able to resolve it one way or the other.

Do you know who could give a definitive answer on this ?



I found a paragraph on this site:
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_variegatus.html

Physical Description
The three-toed sloth reaches slightly less than two feet in length with slender bodies and round heads. The ears are small and unnoticeable. The limbs are long with the arms longer than the legs. The sloth's fingers and toes are permanently curved and narrow with long, sharp, strong claws for holding onto tree limbs. The front limbs have three fingers on each. The fur is long and coarse with a groove running through each hair. These grooves play host to a green algae which helps camouflage the sloth. Males usually have a bright yellow or orange patch on the back. Because the three-toed sloth has three extra cervical vertebrae than other mammals, including its close relative the two-toed sloth, it is able to turn its head 270 degrees, or three-quarters the way around.


Not the definitive answer you were looking for, however it does appear that the 3 toed variety is the proverbial freak

 
indigo fugit
138277.  Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:30 pm Reply with quote

Because the three-toed sloth has three extra cervical vertebrae than other mammals, including its close relative the two-toed sloth, it is able to turn its head 270 degrees, or three-quarters the way around.


Not the definitive answer you were looking for, however it does appear that the 3 toed variety is the proverbial freak[/quote]
***************************************

Hi slapsack, Thank you

That didn't take you very long, I seem to have been asking the wrong people.

This same presenter said that the food of the Monkey Eating Eagle was rarely monkeys but sloths. Apparently, the first one that was examined had eaten a monkey so it was wrongly assumed that that was its usual food.

Perhaps he was right about this as well. I will check and get back to you.

 
themoog
138345.  Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:28 am Reply with quote

indigo fugit wrote:
This same presenter said that the food of the Monkey Eating Eagle was rarely monkeys but sloths. Apparently, the first one that was examined had eaten a monkey so it was wrongly assumed that that was its usual food.

Perhaps he was right about this as well. I will check and get back to you.


This is why it (Pithecophaga jefferyi) was renamed Philippine Eagle. It's diet is far more varied. The genus Pithecophaga (meaning monkey eater) remains though. A truly magnificent bird.

 
indigo fugit
138386.  Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:08 am Reply with quote

Quote:
This is why it (Pithecophaga jefferyi) was renamed Philippine Eagle. It's diet is far more varied. The genus Pithecophaga (meaning monkey eater) remains though. A truly magnificent bird.


A lot of loose ends being tidied up.

Off topic for a moment.

Did the same thing happen to the manx shearwater Ďpuffinus puffinusí?

Apparently the first ones were found in rabbit burrows alongside side the puffins and were thought to be related.

 
themoog
138416.  Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:46 am Reply with quote

Definitely drifting OT. The answer is a bit more complicated and involves idiosyncrasies of taxonomic nomenclature. Is it worth starting a new thread in QI Animals?

 
indigo fugit
142088.  Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:17 am Reply with quote

themoog wrote:
idiosyncrasies taxonomic nomenclature. -- Is it worth starting a new thread in QI Animals?


No

I'm still trying to understand your last post. ((:-(

 
themoog
142540.  Mon Feb 05, 2007 9:20 am Reply with quote

indigo fugit wrote:
themoog wrote:
idiosyncrasies taxonomic nomenclature. -- Is it worth starting a new thread in QI Animals?


No

I'm still trying to understand your last post. ((:-(


OK. Have you been trying for the past 10 days?

 
indigo fugit
142577.  Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:14 am Reply with quote

Hi Themoog, I was a little slothful and have only just looked up the big words. I'm impressed.

Staying on topic

In South America the smaller sloths are kept as pets.

 
cybermuda
202586.  Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:59 am Reply with quote

Why does The Book of GI say that two-toed sloths have six or eight toes?
Surely they have six (three on each foot) or ten (plus two on each hand)?

 
Orphea
243728.  Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:43 am Reply with quote

cybermuda wrote:
Why does The Book of GI say that two-toed sloths have six or eight toes?
Surely they have six (three on each foot) or ten (plus two on each hand)?


Uh? How many hands has your sloth got?

 
Orphea
243753.  Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:00 am Reply with quote

Okay, I'm going to go to all the trouble of typing this up because sloths are one of my favourite animals, Life of Pi is one of my favourite books and those of you who care about one but not the other should still have the pleasure of reading this - 'cos it always makes me laugh. Here goes: (
Life of Pi, Yann Martel, Chapter 1
-
"There are two-toed sloths and there are three toed sloths, the case being determined by the forepaws of the animals, since all sloths have three claws on their hind paws. I had the great luck one summer of studying the three-toed sloth in situ in the equatorial jungles of Brazil. It is a highly intriguing creature. Its only real habit is indolence. It sleeps or rests on average twenty hours a day. Our team tested the sleep habits of five wild three-toed sloths by placing on their heads, in the early afternoon after they had fallen asleep, bright red plastic dishes filled with water. We found them still in place late the next morning, the water of the dishes swarming with insects. The sloth is at its busiest at sunset, using the word busy here in its most relaxed sense. It moves along the bough of a tree in its characteristic upside down position at the speed of roughly 400 metres an hour. On the ground, it crawls to its next tree at the rate of 250 metres an hour, when motivated, which is 440 times slower than a motivated cheetah. Unmotivated, it covers four to five metres in an hour.

The three-toed sloth is not well informed about the outside world. On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusual dullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe (1926) gave the sloth's senses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and its sense of smell a rating of 3. If you come upon a sleeping three-toed sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should suffice to awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction but yours. Why it should look about is uncertain since the sloth sees everything in a Magoo-like blur. As for hearing, the sloth is not so much deaf as uninterested in sound. Beebe reported that firing guns next to sleeping or feeding sloths elicited little reaction. And the sloth's slightly better sense of smell should not be overestimated. They are said to be able to sniff and avoid decayed branches, but Bullock (1968) reported that sloths fall to the ground clinging to decayed branches 'often'."

And yes, I do know that Pi is a work of fiction but I'm giving credit here for good research and, even if it's wrong, that doesn't stop it being charming.


Last edited by Orphea on Wed Dec 12, 2007 2:05 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
swot
243921.  Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:39 am Reply with quote

That's delightfully written. I must procure a copy.

 

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