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.