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(vertebrate zoology)
A family of mammals in the order Edentata comprising the true sloths.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(sloths), a family of mammals of the order Edentata. Body length, 50–64 cm; weight, 4–7 kg. The front legs are longer than the hind legs; the toes (there are two-toed and three-toed sloths) have powerful sickle-shaped claws; the neck is very mobile, allowing the head to turn as much as 270°. Bradypodidae have 18 teeth. Unlike other mammals, they have six to nine cervical vertebrae and 14–24 pairs of ribs. The long hair is grayish brown and often has a greenish tinge caused by the algae that grow in it. The senses of sight and smell are well developed in sloths, but their sense of hearing is not as acute. Body temperature is changeable, varying from 24° to 35°C.

There are two genera, Bradypus and Choloepus, with seven species distributed in South and Central America. They inhabit tropical forests, living in treetops. Nocturnal mammals, sloths sleep during the day, curled up in the vertical crotches of trees. They move extremely slowly and are not mobile. They usually hang horizontally from branches with their backs to the ground; they come down only when it is necessary and will crawl across open spaces as far as 30–40 m. Sloths may spend their entire lives in the top of one tree. They live alone or in pairs (rarely); the single young is born once a year. Sloths eat leaves, young shoots, and fruit.


Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Why three-toed sloths go to the trouble to clamber down to the forest floor to scrape out a latrine depression about once every eight days has been just one of many questions about their lives.
A three-toed sloth will eat only the leaves it knows from the first two weeks of life, so finding the right leaves is critical to keeping a sloth healthy in captivity (a reason few sloths are in zoos).
It remains to be seen what effect the changes in tooth position have upon the dental morphologies and subsequent feeding mechanics, and additional research is required to determine whether this and other dental anomalies also occur in three-toed sloths.
Two-toed sloths, for one, have darker brown coats than the three-toed varieties, while maned three-toed sloths have darker brown heads and necks than other three-toed sloths.
Two genera of tree sloths live today in Central and South America, the two-toed sloth, Choloepus, and the three-toed sloth, Bradypus.
"Oh, I can't help being rude--according to Jung-Myers-Briggs, I'm a Type J personality, with E, R, and K undertones." Or, "I'll always be lazy; the enneagram says I'm a three-toed sloth," and so on.
But it wasn't all meetings: Our trip was enlivened by encounters with barking howler monkeys, flocks of multi-colored butterflies, a three-toed sloth, and a recently downed deer, still warm from the jaws of a rainforest cat.
11 The architect who resembles the three-toed sloth or the Prince de Ligne's scientist, as described by his valet.
They come in six shapes--Pigmy Marmoset, Three-toed Sloth, Scarlet Macaw, Blue Morpho Butterfly, Jaguar and Tapir--and include acerola, maracuja, graviola and cupuacu flavors.