Sloths have taken the internet by storm over the past few years. Always taking things at their own pace, these little animals made a lot of success with memes and cute videos. But despite their recent internet fame, only a few researches had actually dedicated their time to understanding sloths.
While there is more information available now, sloths and their habits, physiology and behavior have little material available compared to other species. Slothino, as an eco-conscious casino brand, tries to create awareness about these fascinating and adorable animals. Let’s take a dive into their world and learn more about the history of sloths.
Sloths Origins and Evolution
Sloths are xenarthra mammals, a natural group native to the Americas that also includes anteaters and armadillos. They are currently divided into two different genera: two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths, a reference to the number of toes on their forelimbs. Both the three-toed sloth and the two-toed sloth have three toes on their rear limbs.
There are two different two-toed sloth species, the Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth and the Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth. The three-toed sloth genus, meanwhile, has four different species. Two of them, the maned sloth and the pygmy three-toed sloth, are classified as threatened species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Scientists believe that the Xenarthra group split from its ancestors around 100 million years ago. Sloths themselves evolved around 60 million years ago. However, the current species took a bit longer to appear, with current estimates pointing at 28 million years ago. The first sloth species were actually ground sloths. And unlike the small tree sloths we know, ground sloths were actually bigger than the average elephant. Certain species could grow as tall as 17 feet in height. Despite their gigantic size, ground sloths were herbivores just like tree sloths.
Sloths are originally from South America. Some species successfully crossed the continent and made their way to North America and the Caribbean islands between 9 and 3 million years ago. Ground sloths disappeared between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago. While there is still plenty of discussion about this topic, most researchers believe that these giant sloths were hunted to extinction by humans.
Sloths and Their Slow Habits
Everything about sloths, starting with their name, revolves around their slow nature. They sleep for more than 15 hours, move at an average pace of 41 yards a day and spend most of their time just hanging from trees. Sloths are the slowest mammals on the planet, and their metabolism is the main reason. Funnily, sloths are also one of the few animals capable of feeding on rainforest leaves, which are often toxic or extremely difficult to digest. Their digestion is incredibly slow, which is actually a positive. Sloths require very little food and waste almost no energy, allowing them to live with a minimal calorie intake.
Once in a week, sloths get down from the canopies to do their necessities on the ground. The reason for this remains a mystery. Other than that, they will only leave the safety of the trees to swim – which they are surprisingly good at. Once that’s been taken care of, it’s back to hanging from tree branches and eating leaves. While it might not sound particularly great, it has definitely worked out for them. Slow and steady wins the race, after all.
Sloths live mostly in South and Central America. The rainforest has the perfect combination for them, with tall trees to hide from predators and ideal climatic conditions. Their slow metabolism doesn’t allow sloths to survive outside of hot climates. And deforestation is their number one threat right now.
Despite their slow nature – or actually because of it – sloths don’t have many natural predators. Jaguars and eagles rely on spotting movement to find their prey. And considering that sloths spend most of their time just chilling on top of tall trees, predators have a hard time finding them. So unless they have to leave the canopies for something, sloths are usually safe from becoming prey to other animals. Deforestation is absolutely deadly for these little animals, leaving them completely exposed to all sorts of dangers.
Other than this, humans remain the top threat for sloths. Animal trafficking has taken a liking to them, as sloths’ increasing popularity makes these animals into interesting exotic pets. Electrical lines are also fatal to sloths. With fewer trees, sloths have to find different ways to move. Since electrical lines and poles bear a resemblance to trees, sloths usually grab onto them, which usually proves to be fatal. On the ground, sloths also become exposed to passing cars. With no trees nearby, sloths often have to cross roads and straight into the path of incoming traffic.
Did you find our history of sloths interesting? Then hang around for more! Slothino is always raising awareness about sloths, rainforest and other important environmental topics. You can also find information on slothino-casino.com and slothino-bonus.com. Come for some gameplay n’ chill with us and stay for more while embracing your inner Slothino. Stay a while, Play a while!