I’ve noticed for the last few months that adorable sloths have been the butt of thousands of memes. It could be their silly perma-smile faces or the fact that they move painfully slow or their long arms and claws. It makes them seem quite comical, but behind all those memes and jokes is actually a very intelligent creature.
Image Via Amazon
Becky Cliffe, a zoologist and founder of a Costa Rican-based Sloth Conservation Foundation, is shedding a new light on sloths in her new book, Sloths: Life in the Slow Lane
. Apart from their having the lowest metabolic rate of any non-hibernating animal, there’s a lot we could learn more we can learn about these tree-dwelllers.
"I really wanted to paint a picture of an animal that is actually perfectly adapted for survival," Cliffe says. Did you know that sloths are three times faster in water than on land? Yes, they float. Cliffe notes
Thirty percent of their body weight is just digesting, fermenting leaves. So they’ve quite a lot of gas in there as well. They're like big balls of air with arms and legs.
They may be slow, but they are very strong. They have special tendons that draw their claws closed when at rest and they can hang from a tree all day everyday. This is because they have a network of blood vessels running through their arms that keep muscles cool and prevent high energy use. Even though their muscle mass is thirty percent less than another animal their size, they have special slow-twitch fibers so they can endure all that hanging without tiring. How crazy is that?
Image Via World Wildlife Fund
Since these guys can’t shiver to create body warmth, they spend their time in the sun, where it can take them up to thirty days to digest a single leaf. And for those who think they’re too slow in the face of predators, they actually use that for their survival.
The Harpy Eagle | Image Via Parody Wiki-Fandom
Sloths share their elevated tree territory with the Harpy Eagle, one of the most powerful birds of prey who focuses on the tiniest movement to spot its food. So who wins here? I’m going with the sloth; after all, there are six different species of them. Even humans can’t spot them very easily. According to National Geographic
, it took wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas and Becky Cliffe six years to compile the book's photography.
So the next time your friend tries to insult you by comparing you to a sloth, whip out this book, and show them that they may actually be paying you a serious compliment.
Featured Image Via National Geographic