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Planet Earth is home to over 13,000 known species of mammals and birds, thousands of reptile, amphibian, and fish species, some 250,000 flowering plant species, and millions of insect and other invertebrate species (Linzey, 2013, p. 102). Together these animals and plants form part of the great natural wealth of the world with which society is entrusted to maintain, both for present generations and those generations yet to come. Nevertheless, individuals choose to undervalue the worth of certain species in their natural environment; one group in particular is the two extant families of sloths. By failing to appreciate all the sloth has to offer, ignorance blossoms. Thus, rather than losing the sloth in a numerical sense such as endangerment …show more content…
The textbook, Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology, clarifies that two-toed and three-toed sloths were formerly placed in the same family; however, the two genera are now placed into two separate families (Feldhamer, Drickhamer, Vessey, Merritt, & Krajewski, 2015). The two families are Megalonychidae (two-toed) and Bradypodidae (three-toed). San Diego Zoo Global (2009) supports this categorization, stating, “…the two genera have profound behavioral and anatomical differences and are believed to come from two different fossil lineages” (para. 2). Oddly enough, the most noticeable difference between the two sloth families is a common misconception. Although their name suggests that the sloths have a different number of toes, all sloths have three claws on their hind limbs. The difference is actually in their forelimbs as the two-toed sloths have two claws on their forelimbs while the three-toed sloths have three claws on their forelimbs. Other comparisons between the two families are that the two-toed sloth is larger, faster, and nocturnal. In addition, their diet is more varied as they eat leaves and fruit. On the other hand, the three-toed sloth is smaller, slower, and both diurnal and nocturnal. Their diet classifies them as highly specialized browsers as they eat only leaves (San Diego …show more content…
As many individuals have begun to piece this all together, they are discovering that there is more to the sloths than what meets the eye. With regard to internal features, compared to other mammals, organs including the stomach, spleen, and liver are located in different areas, due to the upside-down lifestyle (San Diego Zoo Global, 2009). The location of some organs may differ, but sloths actually have a stomach that is chambered like a cow’s. However, unlike cows and other ruminants, the sloth’s stomach is the center of its digestive process and is enormous in relation to the rest of its body. Surprisingly, the sloth’s stomach makes up 20 to 30 percent of its total body weight (Holdrege, 2009). Luckily, the sloth’s four-chambered stomach is filled with bacteria, which helps ferment the plant matter consumed. Even so, digestion takes a long time. In fact, the Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica’s original sloth rescue center, asserts that it is believed that sloths have the slowest digestive rate of any mammal (Avey-Arroyo & Cliffe, n.d.). The true rate of food passage from ingestion to excretion is still under debate. In order to get a better understanding of the sloth’s digestion, R. Cliffe, the Sloth Sanctuary’s biologist, used a digestive marker called Carmine Red, derived from the female Cochineal insect, to calculate how

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