Extant Xenarthra


Order: Xenarthra
Family: 4
Species: 29



Sloths are solitary mammals that live in trees. They have very small heads in proportion to their bodies, and large limbs and claws that enable them to hang upside down. They only leave the safety of the trees about once a week in order to come to the ground to defecate. They are able to descend so rarely as they move extremely slowly and have a very low rate of digestion. Sloths spend so much time upside down that the outer hair of their fur is angled 'up', in the opposite way to most other mammals. Sloths have a gestation period of 5-6 months, after which they give birth to a single young.


Example species:

Lime's two-toed sloth
Choloepus didactylus

Length: 46-86 cm
Weight: 4-8.5 kg
Social unit: Individual
Region: North of South America
Status: Unconfirmed

Sloth skeleton (left) and Natural History Collection (right)
Bristol City Museum, UK

(Click on image of skeleton for a larger picture)



Author: Emma-Louise Nicholls
Last updated: 20th November 2005
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Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2005-6