Nicolas Wade’s article in the New York Times describes a recently written story in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B unveiling the newest theory behind the mysterious behavior of the Three-Toed Sloth. Three-Toed sloths are arboreal mammals native to Central and South America.

All sloths regardless of their specific species classification are infamous for their dramatically slow movements. Similar to other herbivore tree dwelling mammals, sloths have slow metabolisms believed to be due to the lack of nutritional support from their limited diets of leaves and algae. The Three-Toed Sloth’s ability to slow down its metabolism and movements is not what is mysterious about these creatures—but rather it is their weekly journey to the ground floor of the forest to defecate. It is during this process that sloths put themselves in high risk for attack from various predators including jaguars, feral dogs, and coyotes. Researchers have recently put together a theory suggesting that the sloths perform this task weekly to support the miniature ecosystem of algae and moths that grow in their fur. The moths that live in sloths lay their eggs in sloth feces. These moths then contribute nitrogen to sloth coats promoting the growth of algae. Sloths use the algae as a nutritional supplement to their diet of leaves.

This article showcasing this unique study suggests many different aspects of IMT. Some of the text included in this article suggests previous hypothesizes regarding Three-Toed Sloth behavior. The first notable explanation was derived in 1978; it can be easily assumed that prior to this date researchers guessed that this sloth behavior was random. However with the consideration that randomness does not exist, as researchers learned more throughout the years, they became increasingly cognizant of the true purpose of this sloth behavior. This brings up another aspect of IMT regarding natural laws and initial conditions. Sloth behavior remains constant over time and is mostly uniform between the varieties of sloth species (from Three-Toed to Two-Toed Sloths). The consistency of sloth behavior during the duration of their lives mirrors the consistency of the unique conditions between past, present and future as outlined in IMT.



Comments (5)

  1. Jeffrey Vu


    Would have never expected that connection to be made to IMT. Very interesting way of looking at things.

  2. Courtland Jeffrey


    This is a fascinating IMT perspective to the article about three-toed sloths. The article gave an excellent example of IMT in the form of small, non-human life (i.e.- the sloth’s and the moth’s symbiotic relationship), which expanded the possible practical applications of these rules in my understanding. Another possible, although possibly less feasible, IMT connection is that the sloths are not spending their time trying to decide where they should defecate; they know where they need to go and what they need to do for one of their main food sources to exist (in other words, what will make them happy).

  3. Anthony


    This article is interesting because it brings up a subject that may not always be taken into consideration when discussing IMT. Even something that can be perceived as random in nature, will have set initial conditions that prove otherwise.

  4. Mia Wright


    I never realized that sloths were a part of such an intricate ecosystem. I think it makes sense that their actions are not random. The main objective for animals living in the wild is to survive. Why would a sloth put itself at such high risk for death if it did not have an important purpose. Perhaps if more researchers considered the idea that randomness does not exist it could help them continue and finish research on topics that have yet to be discovered.

  5. Jordan


    This author discusses how the article shows IMT, and I agree. The natural laws always existed, but now scientists are learning more about the sloths and have more information about the natural laws. The scientists are simply discovering the natural laws that always existed for sloths. Also, the sloths initial conditions have been there and so if scientists had understood all parts of the sloths initial conditions, like how the moths need the feces and help produce the algae for the sloth’s diets, then they would have been able to predict that the sloths would travel to the ground once a week. Now that scientists are understanding more about the initial conditions of sloths, they are better able to understand the events that happen.

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