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Sloths

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by

Carly Redmond

on 18 March 2013

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Transcript of Sloths

What are the Sloth's Closest Relatives? What is the Ancestry of the Sloth? Sloths For Kids Where is the Evidence? When and Where did the Earliest Variety of Sloths Appear? 1.) The slow lifestyle and low metabolic rate of the sloth has allowed evolution to alter the necks of sloths. These characteristics allowed the sloths to develop long necks without any side effects. The normal amount of neck vertebrae in mammals is 5-7. However, sloths have developed up to 8 or 9.
2.) Sloths have very long arms and very short shoulder blades. This allows them to hold up their own body weight without using very much energy. This adaption occurred through the sloths anatomy. Their bone structure also tells us that the position of their legs and the bending of their joints match the structure of other mammals that walk. This signifies that sloths evolved from walking on land to hanging in trees.
3.) Some features that the sloth has, including turned-in back feet and long arms, are similar to that of the giant ground sloth that once walked the earth. This giant sloth was said to be about 2.5 tonnes, and was about the size of an elephant. Sloths evolved from those creatures into the tree-living, slow-moving animals that exist today. Many people believe that the first variety of sloths were those called "Megatherium", which means "great beast" in Greek. Megatherium are also known as giant ground sloths, which were the size of modern day elephants. These mammals lived in Central and South America from the Pliocene Era (5.4 million years ago) to the Pleistocene Era (1.8 million years ago). But; the truth is the first variety of sloths branched off with many other placental mammals about 100 million years ago in Central and South America, during the Cretaceous Era. The closest relatives to the sloth are the armadillo and the anteater. All three of these animals are members of the Xenarthra, the group of placental mammals that appeared around 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Era. Xenarthrans are one of the oldest groups of mammals and all live in the South and Central America areas. To the left are the fossilized remains of a Megatherium in a museum. To the right is a prediction of what the Megatherium once looked like. Central and South America Sloth Anteater Armadillo On the left below is a Phylogenetic Tree, that shows the sloth and its closest relatives and ancestors. This tree shows the evolution of an organism or group, this one shows some of the Xenarthra group.
On the right below is a Cladogram that shows traits that different species or groups have or do not have in common. On the Cladogram it shows placental mammals, which is where the sloth would be. A Hypothesis About Where Genetic Variation May Have Come From? How Do Sloths Help Others? Sloths live in the rainforests of Central and South America, hanging from the trees for the majority of their life, only climbing down to use the bathroom or to relocate to another tree.
These slow-moving animals have are very important to other animals and to their environment. Sloths give algae a place to live; in the deep grooves that run along their hair. In return, the algae camouflages the sloths and also provides the sloth with a quick snack. How Have Sloths Adapted? Sloths are unable to walk on the ground because they do not have enough muscle to hold them up. They instead have hooked fingers and toes, which allow them to swing and hold onto tree branches. Their limbs are also designed to hold their bodies upside-down.
The sloth's diet consists completely of leaves. Leaves are low in energy and are difficult to digest, and the slowness of the sloth allows them to conserve their energy. They also have a very slow metabolism, which is about half the rate of other animals at the same size. What Will Happen in the Future? The ground sloth has already gone extinct, however, this was thought to be because humans drove them to extinction.
This could also happen to tree sloths. They lose their homes when the trees are cut down. If too many rainforests are eliminated for other uses, then sloths could potentially die out.
Many sloths also can't live in zoos because of the space and their diets. Two types of sloths are the three-toed sloths and the two-toed sloths. Two-toed sloths move much more than the others, and this leads to a more varied diet. The other sloths eat mainly Cecropia Tree parts. There is only one zoo in the United States with this type of sloth on display.
So, if the survival of sloths comes down to them living in zoos, the three-toed sloths will almost definitely go extinct. Sources "The Anatomy of Sloths | Tetrapod Zoology, Scientific American Blog Network." The Anatomy of Sloths | Tetrapod Zoology, Scientific American Blog Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
"Animals of the Rainforest-Sloth." Animals of the Rainforest-Sloth. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
"Decoding Slowness: How Sloths Perfected Energy Saving." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2013."Endangered Species: Sloth." Endangered Species: Sloth. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013."Four Fun Facts about Sloths." Boing Boing Four Fun Facts about Sloths Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013."The Last Word On Nothing." In Defense of Sloths :. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013."Megatherium Americanum (giant Ground Sloth)." Natural History Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013."Shades of Green: Earth's Forests." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013."SLOTHS." Natural History Collections:. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013."Sticking Their Necks out for Evolution: Why Sloths and Manatees Have Unusually Long (or Short) Necks." Sticking Their Necks out for Evolution: Why Sloths and Manatees Have Unusually Long (or Short) Necks. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
"Sloth." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
Zimmer, Carl. "Hunting Fossil Viruses in Human DNA." The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
"Molecular Biology and Evolution." Molecular Phylogeny of Living Xenarthrans and the Impact of Character and Taxon Sampling on the Placental Tree Rooting. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. The End! The Genetic Variation of the sloth may have come from many things. It could have been a mutation in the genes, changing something in a sloth making it different, with either a better or worse chance of survival. This could lead to effects of natural selection, allowing only the stronger to survive. It could also be Genetic Drift, where something happens leaving only few survivors in the population and those are the ones forced to continue the species on. This is also called the bottleneck effect. This could have happened to the now extinct ground sloths; something may have been only possible to survive for those sloths in the trees. By Lindsey Menard
and Carly Redmond
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