Nature: Why do sloths move so slowly?

Why do sloths move so slowly?

Sloths, as their name betrays, have little need to rush. For the most part, they live high in the branches of the forests which stretch across Central and South America, only coming down to the ground to defecate. And the life they lead is very much in slow motion.

“The leaf diet is very poor in nutrients and the intake of calories is very low. Because of this they have to have a very slow metabolic rate to cope with this low calorific intake.” says Camila Mazzoni of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany.

Some mammals have abandoned the endothermic traits that evolution has gifted them. In doing so, they’ve adopted a go-slow, energy-saving lifestyle more similar to cold-blooded animals.

“The thermo-regulation that most mammals have to do requires a lot of energy,” says Mazzoni. “But because sloths don’t have it, it means they require a lot less energy.

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