Sloth

Is sloth a) the creature pictured above or b) the author of BV's fatal flaw?

Is Sloth a) the creature pictured above or b) the author of BV's fatal flaw?

 Sloths once lived both on the ground and in trees, but ground sloths, too slow to outmaeuver enemies, are now extinct, leaving only the familiar upside-down tree dwelling variety.* The surviving species belong to families Megalonychidae (two toed sloths) and Bradypodidae (three toed sloths); only one species (Bradypus torquatus) is currently listed as endangered, though the deforestation of South America’s rainforests may spell trouble for the rest as well. 

Tree dwelling sloths have highly specialized adaptations: for instance, sloths’  outer coats grow “upside down.” Typically, a mammal’s outer hairs  grow “downwards,” but sloth hair has adapted to sloth behavior; because they spend a significant percentage of their time ass-over-elbows, their hair grows away from their extremities, providing added protection from the elements in the inverted position, and creating a flattering “fauxhawk” when upright.
 In addition, their long, curved claws allow them to easily hang upside-down from branches, even to eat, sleep, give birth upside down. The sloth’s  “hands” and “feet” are so efficient that sloths sometimes remain hanging from branches after death, even when shot by poachers. This is  adegree of lethargy truly unmatched outside of my own livingroom.

 These animals are slow moving, low in muscle mass for their size, and the stomach of well-fed adult can make up 2/3 of it’s body weight. They are not, in other words, so very different from many of the grad students at major universities, who have likewise adapted coping mechanisms (including slow progress and binge eating)  to compensate for their diminishing habitat, and for the scarceness and unpalatable nature of available resources,  (particularly once they have remained in their doctoral programs past normative time). ** 

 

*Until the arrival of humans on the North and South American continents, they were poplulated with ground sloths, now extinct. Human hunting of these slow-moving targets likely had a large part in their extinction, though the concommitant Ice age probably helped.

Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth

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2 Comments

Filed under academia, endangered species, extinct species, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Sloth

  1. strange creatures … and strange how that term has pretty much dropped out of general usage. I guess Sloth is part of the Catholic list of ‘deadly sins’ and seeing as they are no longer current …

    on that note, I mourne the passing of the words (and concepts) of things such as honor, truth, and wisdom. Words that signify much, but are no longer part of the everyday mental apparatus.

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