Body Size, Metabolic Rate, and Body Temperature in Giant Sloth Evolution – #365papers – 2017 – 105

#365papers for April 15, 2017

Toldeo, Bargo, Vizcaino, Iuliis, and Pujos, 2017, Evolution of body size in anteaters and sloths (Xenarthra, Pilosa): phylogeny, metabolism, diet and substrate preferences: Earth and Environmental Science Transaction of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, v. 106, p. 289-301.

What’s it about?

Modern sloths are tiny, tree-dwelling herbivores that dangle below the branches and move very, very slowly. However, in the past, there were enormous sloths that ranged across the landscape.

This paper discusses both anteaters and sloths, the modern components of which have adaptations for eating diets of low nutrition. The fossil record of both closely related groups are studied, and the relationships between great size and inferred metabolic rate and diets are considered.

Why does it matter?

Modern anteaters and sloths have lower metabolic rates and body temperatures than most other mammals of comparable size. This makes one wonder in the giant ground sloths were also of lower body temperature and metabolic rate. It’s hard to imagine.

Why did I read this?

I’m working on some research using geochemical methods to determine the body temperature of giant ground sloths. This paper seemed like something important for me to read.

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