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Sloths – very peculiar animals of the order missing teeth. Their closest relatives are the anteaters and armadillos, looks completely dissimilar with sloths. Variety sloths small, in the world there are only 5 of their species, which are grouped into two families – three-toed and two-toed sloths.
All kinds of sloths are quite similar to each other. It is a medium-sized animal, body length of 50-60 cm and a weight of 4-6 kg. By constitution sloths resemble absurd monkey: they have a very long limbs, prehensile toes, a relatively small head. Coat sloths very long, quite thick and shaggy, why they sometimes resemble a haycock. The tail is very short and is buried in wool. It is also difficult to distinguish small ears and eyes. Muzzle sloths is designed so that it seems as if these animals are smiling all the time. Nevertheless, European explorers thought sloths extremely ugly animals. However, the most amazing features of sloths are not in the external and the internal structure of the body. Almost all organs of sloths are not arranged as in other mammals.
Let’s start with the fact that the sloth teeth are arranged very primitive: they have no roots, and the surface layer of enamel, teeth are identical in shape and size (only two-toed sloths have a couple of separate fangs). Because this sloth tooth structure, and carried to the order of missing teeth. The sense organs are developed is not very good, sloths are neither vigilance nor the sharpness of hearing, but their well-developed sense of smell. In general, the brains of these animals is small and primitive arranged as sloths are very unusual way of life. This lifestyle left its mark on other viscera sloths. Liver their stomach is separated from the abdominal wall and moved to the back, the spleen is not left as in all mammals, and on the right, trachea makes amazing curls, huge stomach and intestines and the bladder is so great that props up the aperture. What is unusual in the life of these animals, to transform the internal organs so?
All kinds of sloths are found only in South America and inhabit only the warm – equatorial and tropical – zone. They live only in the forests, because they are arboreal lifestyle. Living sloths are not simply related to the trees, it completely takes place in their crowns. There sloths eat, sleep, reproduce and die …. However, live idlers completely as other wood animals (the monkeys, proteins, etc.). Firstly, they move along the branches in limbo. The fact that the fingers sloths (and they are the extremities of 2 or 3) is extremely long, fused together over the whole length and end with huge curved claws. These sloth claw grabs a branch like a hook and hangs her head down. This method of movement is fundamentally different from the monkey or squirrel. These arboreal animal paws grasping branches and held them by force of their muscles.
But sloth force is not needed at all, when it hangs on a branch, hooked claws, do not spend any effort on it.
Secondly, in connection with energy-efficient way to travel sloths are not able to fast and abrupt movements: can not jump, swing on branches. Their name could not be accurately reflects their main feature – a tremendous slowness. The speed of movement of sloth strikes any person watching these animals. The slothful man does everything slowly, slowly turns his neck to look back, slowly pulls paw of branches, it moves slowly, slowly chewing food … sloth movement speed is only a few meters per minute! One gets the impression that nature itself wants to hasten the animal and comes to his aid. For example, in the neck cervical vertebrae idlers 8-9 (and all other mammals, including a giraffe – 7!). Due to this the number of vertebrae sloths can easily turn your head to 180 ° (owls) and scanned the neighborhood effortless. Due to the fact that sloths hanging down his back all his life, their internal organs shifted and took almost a mirror position. But that’s not all. Due to the extreme slowness in sloths incredibly low metabolic rate. Suffice it to say that the usual body temperature which is only 30-33 °, and can fall to 24 °. None of the mammal, the more lives in a warm climate, does not have such a low body temperature! All metabolic processes in them is very slow, the food passes through the digestive tract week. Moreover, in the gut sloths live special symbiotic bacteria that help them digest their food. Sloths sleep too much – up to 10 hours a day.
The fur of sloths is backward direction of the nap, if all the animals fur grows in the direction from the back to the stomach, then sloths vice versa, so the position of the water belly up freely dripping from their bodies.
But the most surprising is that the sloths, unlike other wood animals, never … I do not defecate in the trees. This phenomenon is doubly surprising when you consider how much they are slow and cumbersome. Nevertheless, the fact remains – for the bowel and bladder sloths come down from the trees to the ground. The descent to the ground sloth equivalent to the great journey and fraught with great danger to the life, because sloths live in the crowns at an altitude of 30-40 meters above the ground and on the ground are absolutely defenseless against any predators. In this regard, sloths perform such feats not often – and intestines, and bladder are emptied once a week! Now it is clear why the bladder have such an enormous size. By the way, on the ground sloths bury feces in a specially dug pit, like cats.
During the descent to the ground sloths sometimes change their place of deployment and move to neighboring trees. However, they also know how to walk not. Long hooked claws and curved fingers do not allow them to move on the ground, so sloths creep. The slothful man traveling on the earth, is both sad and comical sight. He sprawled belly-crawling and slowly (and how could it be otherwise!) Pulls awkward legs forward and then in turn pulled on them like a wounded soldier. It seems that sloth is at its last gasp, and is about to die, but in fact it is a completely normal pace of life.
However, in this series of miracles do not end there. Sloths may even surprise many. It appears in their lives is a thing that sloths are able to do … fast! Incredibly, wood inhabitants – sloths – know how to swim and do it very well! The ability to develop their swimming is not surprising, as in the Amazon rainforest floods and river floods are not uncommon, it often happens that the water conceals the ground for a few months a year. Then sloths move between trees by swimming. In the water they swim awkwardly, scrabbling paws like a rake, but the rate of developing a relatively decent – up to 4 km / h. The fur of sloths and wet in the river and the rain in the trees, but it’s only going to benefit them. The fact that the fur hairs often settle and microscopic algae Trichophilus Cyanoderma, that color coat in a greenish tint. These algae is characterized sloths and even their names in Latin sounds like “volosolyubivye” and “green skin”. Algae somewhat camouflage sloths among the green trees.
Sloths feed on leaves and flowers, tropical trees, especially tserkopii sometimes eat fruits and even small animals (lizards, insects), who accidentally fall into them on the tooth. For this reason, these animals kept in zoos rare because it is difficult to provide them with a suitable feed. Different species of sloths are looking for food at different times of the day: three-toed active during the day and mostly at night didactylism. Their teeth grow continuously throughout life, which is an adaptation to a vegetable diet food. Stomach also has a complex structure: it has two parts, each of which consists of several chambers. This structure allows the digestive system sloths get the most nutrients out of the low-calorie food such as leaves. At the same time sloths tolerate hunger, which is rare in herbivorous animals.
Sloths lead a solitary lifestyle, and because of their immobility rarely collide with each other. However, at a meeting on the same tree they tolerate tolerate fellow, never show aggression and calmly feeding, and even sleep next to each other. They do not often give voice, but three-toed sloths, for example, shout “ah-ah”, while dissatisfaction loud wheeze. With cries of males and females find each other in the mating season. Certain breeding season sloths not, they can mate all year round, only three-toed sloths breeding in March-April. Pregnancy at different kinds lasts from 6 months to a year, which is very much for the animals of small size. Born is always young. Deliveries take place on the tree, the female during this process disengaged hind legs from the branches and hangs on the front legs. In such a hanging position she gives birth to a cub, which immediately grabs his mother’s paws and fur crawling to her chest. The female, meanwhile, bites off the umbilical cord and only then takes the usual position, hanging on all fours on a branch. The first two months baby is fed exclusively with milk, then gradually begins to try the leaves. For nine months it becomes completely independent, and finally grows up to 2.5 years. Because of their immobility and slow metabolism sloths different longevity. In captivity they live up to 20 years, but in the nature of dying earlier.
Do sloths few enemies, but they live in an environment of constant danger. Predators lurk them everywhere. On the ground, the main danger for them are jaguars and cougars that attack the helpless animals. These cats can catch sloths and lower branches of the crown, as great climb trees. For this reason, sloths, try as little as possible to go down to the ground and stay on top of the crown, where the branches are thin, and the big cats can not move him. However, at the height of their traps another problem – birds of prey harpy who literally shoot slow-moving sloths from branches without effort. During the flood floating lazy crocodiles can attack. It should be noted that sloths bravely fighting for their lives and, in spite of his clumsiness, trying to fend off attacks by powerful claws. Due to the slow metabolism of these animals are well tolerated in a variety of wounds and have high survivability. But not only the enemies of the world is full of sloth. They also have a completely harmless friends. For example, in the fur of these animals can settle butterfly moth. They do not cause harm sloths (as well as use), simply use them as home.
Indians of South and Central America has long been hunted for sloths, and later they were joined by European explorers. Extracted these animals for their meat, which is reminiscent of the lamb, and the skins were on the pavement seats. Fortunately, the number of hunting is not undermined sloths Indians killed only individual animals within their needs, and mass production was beyond the power of the Europeans. To find a sloth in the forest is very difficult, as the stiffness, silent and discreet color fur camouflages them, besides kill sloths at high altitude too difficult. Often the dead sloth is hanging on the branches (because it does not use muscle strength to hold on the branch), the same fate befalls sloths and died a natural death from old age. Now the hunting of these animals is not in vogue, but their numbers are dwindling due to the destruction of natural habitats, as well as the modern scourge – power lines, which are like sloths climb trees and are killed by electric shock. Only the leading zoos in the world can afford to have in their collection of these interesting animals. Despite the general primitiveness sloths are not alien feelings and affection, in captivity they get used to people and pups reared by hand, get to know their teachers and with all the “rush” of power in their arms. Now no one believes sloths ugly, their positive image could reflect the best creators of “Ice Age” cartoon in which one of the main roles played by Sid the sloth.

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