Brown Throated Sloths - Costa Rica
A sloth hangs from a tree in a rainforest in Costa Rica. Clinging to her body and peering out is her tiny baby. Sloths are fascinating creatures. Their lives are lived at a much slower pace than other animals. This lackadaisical lifestyle is actually a very simple defensive trait which helps it avoid predators that hunt by sight like jaguars and large birds. Rather than evolving to be quick on their feet to avoid predators, sloths went the route of simply being motionless and therefore invisible. They move so slowly in fact, that algae grows on their hair. The algae, which is green, serves as camouflage for the sloth, helping them blend in with the forest canopy. The coat of the sloth is also famously home to "sloth moths", which as the name implies are moths who make their homes in the sloths coarse hair. Sloths have the slowest digestion rate of any mammal, and since they are highly adapted to living in trees, their diet consists almost completely of leaves with little to no nutrient value. Scientists believe that sloths, whos hair becomes its own ecosystem, are benefiting from a symbiotic relationship between itself, the moths and the algae. The moths colonize the sloth's hair, in return the moths aid in the growth of the nutrient rich algae, the algae in turn, helps camouflage the sloth and also provides it with important nutrients it needs to survive in the trees. They really are a wonder of evolution, and I felt really lucky to be able to have such an up close encounter with this mom and her adorable baby.
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