So why don't they just bomb the forest floor from above, like the rest of the vile arboreal denizens? The answer may be more complicated than you'd ever guess could come from something as dopey as a sloth. You see, these animals are so ridiculously torpid that algae can actually grow on them. This works out quite well, because the sloths always have something to nibble on, right there on their backs. Various bugs and fungi also take up residence in this "mobile ecosystem," as National Geographic describes it, and one particular species of moth has evolved to live nowhere else.
Suzi Eszterhas / Getty Images, Mark Moffett / Getty Images
Probably because it's pretty easy to avoid a swat that takes 20 minutes to deliver.
These moths have their own part to play in keeping the sloths' back-hair salad bar up and running, and without them, the whole system might fall apart. However, to complete their life cycle, the moths need to lay their eggs in a safe place where there's plenty to eat. Which, it turns out, is a mound of steaming sloth plop. Some scientists believe that the seemingly unnecessary risk the sloths are taking by descending from the trees is actually their way of bringing their tiny partners closer to the best egg-laying locations, doing their part to maintain the repulsive organic co-op.
Jonathan Pauli, et al.
If you've ever eaten kale, this shouldn't gross you out in the slightest.
So it all makes perfect sense now! Well, except for the recently discovered development that sloths, while they're tortuously inching along on their prolonged toilet jaunts, have taken to making midnight raids on human settlements to pilfer and devour the contents of outdoor latrines. OK, maybe they're just poop-loving morons after all.
E. Reid Ross also writes about all sorts of animals at The Featured Creature, where he makes a more concerted attempt to disguise his visceral fear of all things that slither and creep.
Also check out The 7 Worst Sex Lives In The Animal Kingdom and 7 Species That Got Screwed Over By Mother Nature.
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