Hoffman’s two-toed sloths are one of two species in the genus Choloepus. Species in this genus are easily identified by the presence of two claws on the forelimb. The other extant genus of sloths, three-toed sloths Bradypus, have three claws on the forelimb. Hoffman’s two-toed sloths have head and body lengths ranging from 58 to 70 cm, mass varies from 4 to 8 kg.
Males and females are monomorphic. Hoffman’s two-toed sloths have rounded heads and flattened faces. The small snout is naked and protrudes from the flattened face. Ears are round and thickened, almost always covered with hair. The coloration of body hair in adults is a mosaic of tan, blonde, and light brown. Shading of the hair over the head and back is often darker than the rest of the body. A good way to distinguish C. hoffmanni from C. didactylus is that the former lacks dark shoulder and forearm markings. The hair of C. hoffmanni can grow up to 15 cm. Hair covering the abdominal region grows from the midline laterally so that the hair is parted. This serves as an efficient means to expel run-off water since sloths spend the majority of their time hanging upside down. Sloths have two coats, a softer inner coat and an outer coat that is longer and coarser in texture. During dry seasons the coat appears brown. In times of abundant rainfall, the outermost coat takes up a green hue due to the growth of algae. The fur coat also assists in insulating the sloth.
The forelimbs are slightly longer than the hind limbs. The manus and pes are highly modified in C. hoffmanni. Functional digits are reduced to numbers II and III in the manus and II, III, and IV in the pes. Digits of the manus are syndactylous. The distalmost phalanges are curved and possess claws that extend 8 to 10 cm. Soles of the manus and pes are bare and equipped with thick-skinned glabrous pads. The tail is absent or vestigial.
One of the most constant mammalian morphological characteristics is the presence of seven cervical vertebrae. Only three genera are known to be an exception to this constant, Choloepus, Bradypus, and Trichechus. The number can differ from individual to individual but it varies in Choloepus hoffmanni from 5 to 8 cervical vertebrae. Shortening of the neck (fewer than 7 cervical vertebrae) in conjunction with thick musculature around the neck region and a robust clavicle provide the rigidity that is needed to support the head while inverted.
There are five upper and four lower teeth in each quadrant for a total of 18 teeth. Choloepus hoffmanni lacks deciduous teeth and, instead, has ever-growing or hypseledont teeth. The teeth lack enamel, instead they possess a harder layer of dentin which surrounds an inner softer layer of dentin. Teeth erupt as simple conical structures and over time wear into caniniform and molariform teeth. This process is termed thegosis. The softer dentin center is worn away more quickly than the harder outer dentin layer during occlusion. This in turn forms a basin in the center of molariform teeth with a sharper outer layer. In adults, the anterior teeth are caniniform and are separated from the homodont, molariform cheek teeth by a diastema. These anterior maxillary caniniform teeth occlude with the posterior surfaces of the mandibular caniniforms. This occlusion forms unique triangular beveled caniniforms, characteristic of Choloepus hoffmanni. In the cheek teeth, each mandibular tooth occludes anterior to the corresponding maxillary tooth by an interval of half a tooth length. Other cranial osteological landmarks include an incomplete zygomatic arch, of which the jugal has two processes (lower and upper); inflated pterygoid region forming sinuses; open tympanic ring supporting the tympanic membrane; and a crescent-shaped glenoid fossa.
Range mass: 4 to 8 kg.
Range length: 58 to 70 cm.
Average basal metabolic rate: 45 cm^3 oxygen/hour.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Average basal metabolic rate: 3.891 W.
- Buchholtz, E., C. Stepien. 2009. Anatomical transformation in mammals: developmental origin of aberrant cervical anatomy in tree sloths. Evolution & Development, 11:1: 69-79.
- Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2000. Mammalogy. United States: Thomson Learning.
- Mendel, F. 1981. Use of Hands and Feet of Two-Toed Sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni) during Climbing and Terrestrial Locomotion. Journal of Mammalogy, 62(2): 413-421.