Wildlife Conservation

1) Pygmy three toed Sloth

The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus), also known as a monk sloth or dwarf sloth,[3] is a small three-toed sloth, endemic to Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a small island off the coast of Panama, which separated from the mainland nearly 8900 years ago.[4] Only described as a separate species in 2001, they are thought to have originated from isolation of individuals of the mainland population of brown-throated three-toed sloths. The population became a distinct species through insular dwarfism on the island.

Studies suggest an inverse, linear relationship between mean body sizes and age of the island for island populations of sloths in this region.

Characteristics

Pygmy three-toed sloths have a tan face with a dark brown band across the brow and orange eye patches. The back can exhibit either uniform or blotchy color distribution, but is usually dark brown with an obvious dorsal stripe. Pygmy sloths are unique in that they have long hairs on the crown and the sides of the head, giving the distinct impression of a hood.[5] Compared to the related brown-throated three-toed sloth, the pygmy species is, on average 40% smaller in body mass, weighing 2.5 to 3.5 kilograms (5.5 to 7.7 lb), and 15% smaller in body length. Adults measure 48 to 53 centimetres (19 to 21 in), with a 4.5 to 6.0 centimetres (1.8 to 2.4 in) tail.

They have a relatively small skull, with a large external auditory meatus, narrow squamosal and mandibular processes, no foramina in the anterodorsal nasopharynx, a minuscule stylomastoid foramen, and they usually lack foramina for the external carotid artery.[4] They have eighteen teeth, ten in the upper jaw and eight in the lower. Two of the teeth in each jaw are incisor-like, although those in the upper jaw are small or may be absent. The incisor-like teeth in the lower jaw are compressed anteroposteriorly. Many of the features found in pygmy sloths are thought to be indicative of a relatively rapid evolution of a new species in an isolated, island, habitat.[4]

Pygmy sloths are also 12–16% smaller in cranial dimensions than the mainland species (length: 67.5 to 72.2 millimetres (2.66 to 2.84 in); width: 38.8 to 45.7 millimetres (1.53 to 1.80 in).[4]

Ecology

All three-toed sloths are arboreal mammals that feed on leaves; the pygmy sloth is unique in that it is found exclusively in the red mangroves, and feeds on coarse leaves. Red mangrove leaves are a relatively poor source of nutrients, in comparison with the tender leaves of the Cecropia tree eaten by brown-throated sloths on the mainland.[5]

The smaller size of pygmy sloths reduces their energy requirements for survival and reproduction, making them an apparent example of insular dwarfism.[5] No predators of pygmy three-toed sloths have been documented.

Population and threats

A 2011 study found only 79 pygmy three-toed sloths on Escudo de Veraguas.[10] While their population has presumably always been low due to their restricted range, this census found far lower population numbers than had been estimated (around 300).[11] Although the island has no human population, the World Conservation Union stated in 2006 that visiting fishermen poach the sloth,[11] which is an easy target because it only lives in the mangrove forests by the sea. However, this claim has not been substantiated.[citation needed]Although protected as a wildlife refuge, the enforcement is lax.[11]

Pygmy sloths are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.[2]


Source :- Wikipedia.org

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