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sloth(slōth, slôth), arboreal mammal found in Central and South America distantly related to armadillosarmadillo
, New World armored mammal of the order Edentata, a group that also includes the sloth and the anteater, characterized by peglike teeth without roots or enamel. Armadillos are found from Argentina to Panama, with one species reaching the southern United States.
..... Click the link for more information. and anteatersanteater,
name applied to various animals that feed on ants, termites, and other insects, but more properly restricted to a completely toothless group of the order Edentata. There are four species classified in three genera, all found in tropical Central and South America.
..... Click the link for more information. . Sloths live in tropical forests, where they sleep, eat, and travel through the trees suspended upside down, clinging to branches with the powerful curved claws of their forelimbs and hindlimbs. Algae that grow on the hair impart a greenish color to the coat, which blends in with the foliage, but the algae are also eaten by the sloths. There is no tail.
The three-toed sloth (Bradypus) is about the size of a house cat, with a dense, furry coat and yellowish face. It has three toes on the front feet and five on the hind feet. In addition to algae, its main food is the leaves, buds, and stems of Cecropia, a tropical relative of the mulberry. The somewhat larger two-toed sloth (Choloepus) has very long hair. It eats a less restricted vegetarian diet. Sloths move sluggishly but can strike swiftly and powerfully if attacked. Huge ground sloths (see megatheriummegatherium
[Gr.,=large beast], extinct ground sloth, of the genus Megatherium, that was widely distributed in North and South America in the Pleistocene epoch. Fossil evidence shows that these mammals became extinct comparatively recently, about the time that the first
..... Click the link for more information. ) are extinct forms.
Sloths are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information. , subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Edentata, families Bradypodidae and Megalonychidae.