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There is little information on the Bradypus pygmaeus mating system. However, in other Bradypus species, there is evidence that males compete for access to mating opportunities with receptive females.

Reproduction in Bradypus pygmaeus has not been researched enough to report details. Bradypus torquatus has been studied more extensively. They copulate towards the end of the dry season and early wet season, which occurs from August through October, which results in gestation and lactation occurring during times of plenty of food. Births occur from February to April, marking the end to the wet season and start of the dry season. One infant is born after a gestation period of 6 months. The interbirth interval is 1 year for maned sloths.

Breeding interval: A close relative, Bradypus torquatus, breeds once yearly, but the breeding interval for B. pygmaeus is not known.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Female pygmy three-toed sloths invest heavily in young through gestation and lactation, as do females in other sloth species. Details of parental care are not reported for pygmy three-toed sloths, but related species care for their young for up to 6 months.

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

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Guarino, F. 2009. "Bradypus pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_pygmaeus.html
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Bradypus pygmaeus was recently discovered in 2001, which is why a lot of information is lacking for the species. Compared to Bradypus variegatus Pygmy three-toed sloths are 15% smaller in total length, and 40% smaller in their mass.

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Guarino, F. 2009. "Bradypus pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_pygmaeus.html
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Behavior
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There is little information on communication in Bradypus pygmaeus. Like other sloths, pygmy three-toed sloths are likely to have relatively poor eyesight. They may use vocalizations and are likely to use chemical cues in communication.

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Conservation Status
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Because of their extremely restricted range, habitat degradation in that area, increasing tourism, and illegal hunting, Bradypus pygmaeus has been listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: critically endangered

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Benefits
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There are no known adverse effects of Bradypus pygmaeus on humans.

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There are no known benefits to humans from Bradypus pygmaeus at this time.

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Guarino, F. 2009. "Bradypus pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_pygmaeus.html
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Associations
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Because pygmy three-toed sloths are a recently described species, little is known about their ecosystem roles. They are hosts to various parasites, may influence vegetation through their browsing, and act as prey for larger, arboreal predators.

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Guarino, F. 2009. "Bradypus pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_pygmaeus.html
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Trophic Strategy
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Pygmy three-toed sloths are arboreal folivores. They eat leaves from many different kinds of trees and have low metabolic rates.

Plant Foods: leaves

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

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Distribution
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Bradypus pygmaeus, commonly called monk, dwarf, or pygmy three-toed sloth, is found only on the Isla Escudo de Veraguas of Bocas del Toro, which is located off the coast of Panama. This island is small, only about 5 square kilometers in area.

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Habitat
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Pygmy three-toed sloths have been found living only in coastal, red mangroves at sea level.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest

Aquatic Biomes: coastal

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Guarino, F. 2009. "Bradypus pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_pygmaeus.html
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Life Expectancy
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Little information is known at this time about the lifespan or longevity for Bradypus pygmaeus. Other species of sloths have been known to live 30 to 40 years in captivity.

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Guarino, F. 2009. "Bradypus pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_pygmaeus.html
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Morphology
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Bradypus pygmaeus is similar to Bradypus variegatus but smaller. Pygmy three-toed sloths have buff-colored faces with dark circles that surround the eye and go outwards to their temples. Clay-orange fur covers the face, starting underneath the dark eye circles. The hair on the head and shoulders is long and bushy, distinctive against the shorter facial hair and making it look as if these sloths have a hood. The throat is brown-gray and the dorsum is speckled and has a dark mid-sagittal stripe. Males differ in that they have a dorsal ginger speculum with fuzzy hair following the margin. Pygmy three-toed sloths have in total 18 teeth, 10 from the upper jaw which consists of 2 anterior chisel-shaped teeth and 8 molariform teeth. On the bottom jaw there are 8 teeth; 2 anterior chisel-shaped, and 6 molariform teeth. The skull is small in comparison to other closely related species, lacks foramina in the anterodorsal nasopharynx, and doesn't have pterygoid sinuses that are inflated. The zygomatic arch is incomplete with slim roots, and the process of the jugal descends long and thin. Bradypus pygmaeus also have large external auditory meatus. Like other sloths, body temperature regulation is likely to be imperfect, making them heterothermic.

Range mass: 2.5 to 3.5 kg.

Average mass: 2.9 kg.

Range length: 485 to 530 mm.

Average length: 505.4 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

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Associations
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Predators of pygmy three-toed sloths have not been reported. However, like other sloths, they are very slow-moving animals with long, hair that often grows algae, allowing them to blend in well in their leafy habitats. Other sloth species are preyed on by harpy eagles (Harpia harpyja), jaguars (Panthera onca), jaguarundis (Puma yagouaroundi) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis).

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Guarino, F. 2009. "Bradypus pygmaeus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bradypus_pygmaeus.html
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Biology
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Very little is known about the biology of the pygmy three-toed sloth, although much can be inferred from what is known about three-toed sloths generally. Three-toed sloths are arboreal folivores that eat the leaves of a variety of trees. This is an energy-poor diet, and these animals have a very low metabolic rate (3). Their main defences are camouflage, stealth and stillness, whereby they avoid predation largely by avoiding detection (3) (5). However, should they be attacked, sloths also have a remarkable capacity to survive due to their tough hides, tenacious grips and extraordinary ability to heal from grievous wounds (5).
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Conservation
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Isla Escudo de Veraguas is protected as a wildlife refuge and is contained within the Comarca Indigenous Reserve. However, law enforcement within this protected area is currently inadequate, and needs to be improved (1).
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Description
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With only a small population confined to a single tiny island off the coast of Panama, the pygmy three-toed sloth is the most endangered of all Xenarthra. As its name suggests, this recently discovered species is a dwarf compared with its mainland relatives (4). In addition to its small size, the pygmy three-toed sloth is characterised by usually blotchy, pale grey-brown fur and a tan-coloured face with a distinctive dark band across the forehead, from which long, shaggy hair hangs over the face, giving a hooded appearance. Sloths have an unusual means of camouflage to avoid predation; their outer fur is often coated in algae, giving the pelage a greenish tint that helps hide them in their forest habitat. Three-toed sloths (Bradypus) can be distinguished from their distant relatives, the two-toed sloths (Choloepus), by the three digits on their forelimbs, blunter muzzle, and simpler, peg-like teeth (3).
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Habitat
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Known exclusively in red mangrove forests surrounding the island at near sea level (1) (3).
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Range
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Known only from Isla Escudo de Veraguas in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama (1) (3).
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Status
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Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).
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Threats
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The pygmy three-toed sloth has an extremely restricted range on one very small island. Although the island is uninhabited, fishermen, farmers, lobster divers and local people are all seasonal visitors, and are thought to hunt the sloths illegally. The growing tourism industry is also a potential threat to the species, by degrading its habitat (1).
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Pygmy three-toed sloth
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The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus), also known as the monk sloth or dwarf sloth, is a sloth endemic to Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a small island off the coast of Panama. The species was first described by Robert P. Anderson of the University of Kansas and Charles O. Handley Jr., of the Smithsonian Institution in 2001. The pygmy three-toed sloth is significantly smaller than the other three members of its genus, but otherwise resembles the brown-throated three-toed sloth. According to Anderson and Handley Jr., the head-and-body length is between 48 and 53 centimetres (19 and 21 in), and the body mass ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 kg (5.5 to 7.7 lb).

This sloth, like other sloths, is arboreal (tree-living) and feeds on leaves. It is symbiotically associated with green algae, that can provide it with a camouflage. Details of mating behavior and reproduction have not been documented. The pygmy three-toed sloth is found exclusively in the red mangroves of Isla Escudos de Veraguas, restricted to an area of 4.3 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi). A 2012 census of pygmy three-toed sloths estimated the total population at 79. The IUCN lists the pygmy three-toed sloth as critically endangered and they are listed on the world's 100 most threatened species.

Discovery and taxonomy

The pygmy three-toed sloth was first described by Robert P. Anderson of the University of Kansas and Charles O. Handley Jr., of the Smithsonian Institution in 2001. The researchers noted that the three-toed sloths endemic to Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a small island off the coast of Panama, are significantly smaller than those that occur on the nearby outer islands of Bocas del Toro Province. Moreover, they differ from other populations in terms of pelage and cranial characteristics. Hence, they considered the three-toed sloths in Isla Escudo de Veraguas to be an independent species and formally described it from the skin and skull of an adult female. The researchers further pointed out that Isla Escudos de Veraguas is the oldest island and located farthest from the mainland, that began breaking up into small islands due to rises in sea levels 10,000 years ago. They proposed that this species evolved from an isolated population that had originated from the mainland population of brown-throated three-toed sloths; it gradually differentiated enough to become an independent species through insular dwarfism.[2] In another study the following year, the researchers observed that the mean body size of three-toed sloths on an island decreases linearly as the age of the island increases; the area of the island and the distance from the mainland, however, do not appear to significantly affect dwarfing.[3]

The pygmy three-toed sloth is one of the four members of the genus Bradypus, and is classified under the family Bradypodidae.[4] A 2004 phylogenetic analysis suggested that Bradypus is sister to all other folivorans.[5] The generic name Bradypus is the combination of two Greek words: brady ("slow") and pous ("foot").[6] The specific name pygmaeus comes from the Greek pugmaios ("as small as a fist").[7] 'Monk sloth' and 'dwarf sloth' are two other names for this sloth.[8]

Characteristics

The pygmy three-toed sloth is significantly smaller than the other members of its genus, but otherwise resembles the brown-throated sloth. According to Anderson and Handley Jr., the head-and-body length is between 48 and 53 centimetres (19 and 21 in), and the body mass ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 kg (5.5 to 7.7 lb). The brown-throated sloth is nearly 40% heavier and 15% smaller in head-and-body length than the pygmy three-toed sloth. Moreover, the brown-throated sloth is lighter on the crown. The face is buff to tan; a dark band runs across the brow, surrounded by an orange patch. The throat is gray to brown, lighter than the underbelly; the dark brown back is spotted and has a dark stripe along the midline. Facial hair is short, while the long, rough hair on the crown and shoulders forms a hood. The grayish limbs have three claws each. The tail is 4.5 to 6 centimetres (1.8 to 2.4 in) long.[2][3][9]

They have a relatively small and slender skull, with a large external auditory meatus, narrow squamosal and mandibular processes, a minuscule stylomastoid foramen, and usually lack foramina for the external carotid artery and anterodorsal (meaning in front and toward the back) nasopharynx. The dental formula of three-toed sloths is: 54–5[10] Two of the teeth in each jaw are incisor-like, although those in the upper jaw are small or may be absent. 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.[2]

Distribution and status

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Pygmy three-toed sloths live on red mangroves.

The pygmy three-toed sloth is unique in that it is found exclusively in the red mangroves of Isla Escudos de Veraguas; the island has a small area of approximately 4.3 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi). A 2012 census of pygmy three-toed sloths estimated the total population at 79 – of which 70 occurred on mangroves and 9 in the surroundings. The population density was calculated as 5.8 per hectare. The total area occupied by mangroves on the island was estimated to be around 10.67 hectares (0.0412 sq mi).[11] While their population has presumably always been low due to their restricted range, the 2012 census found far lower numbers than had been estimated (less than 500) by the IUCN in 2010.[12]

The IUCN lists the pygmy three-toed sloth as critically endangered; it is also listed in CITES Appendix II. According to the IUCN, conservation efforts are being hampered by conflict between local peoples and the government.[1] Threats to the sloth's survival include timber harvesting and human settlement, that might lead to habitat degradation.[13] Studies in 2010 and 2013 suggested a recent population bottleneck and decline in genetic variability.[1]

Ecology and behavior

The pygmy three-toed sloth, like others in its genus, is an arboreal (tree-living) animal. This sloth can spend as many as 15 to 20 hours per day on trees. It moves at an extremely slow speed of 0.24 kilometres per hour (0.15 mph), making it one of the slowest animals.[14] The pygmy three-toed sloth is symbiotically related to green algae; a 2010 study investigated this in detail. Different sloths harbour different types of algae – only Tricophilus species were found on the brown-throated and pygmy three-toed sloths. These algae discolor the fur of the sloth, giving it a greenish hue – this serves as an efficient camouflage.[15] Some of these algae might be transferred to offspring through the mother, others may be picked up from the surroundings over time.[16] The smaller size of pygmy sloths reduces their energy requirements for survival and reproduction, making them an apparent example of insular dwarfism.[3] A BBC documentary, in which English naturalist Chris Packham recognizes the pygmy three-toed sloth as the first in his list of the top ten discoveries in the 2000s, shows a rare clip of a swimming pygmy three-toed sloth.[17]

Like other sloths, the pygmy three-toed sloth feeds on leaves. It feeds on red mangrove leaves, which are relatively poor in nutrients and coarser than the tender leaves of Cecropia species eaten by brown-throated sloths on the mainland.[3] Details of mating behavior and reproduction have not been documented.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Voirin, B.; Smith, D.; Chiarello, A.; Moraes-Barros, N. (2014). "Bradypus pygmaeus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2014: e.T61925A47444229. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T61925A47444229.en. Retrieved 13 June 2016..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  2. ^ a b c Anderson, R.P.; Handley Jr., C. O. (2001). "A new species of three-toed sloth (Mammalia: Xenarthra) from Panama, with a review of the genus Bradypus". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 114 (1): 1–33. open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ a b c d Anderson, R.P.; Handley Jr., C.O. (2002). "Dwarfism in insular sloths: biogeography, selection, and evolutionary rate" (PDF). Evolution. 56 (5): 1045–58. doi:10.1111/j.0014-3820.2002.tb01415.x. open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ Gardner, A.L. (2005). "Order Pilosa". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  5. ^ Gaudin, T.J. (2004). "Phylogenetic relationships among sloths (Mammalia, Xenarthra, Tardigrada): the craniodental evidence" (PDF). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 140 (2): 255–305. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2003.00100.x. open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ "Bradypus". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  7. ^ Beddard, F.E. (2015). The Cambridge Natural History, Vol X. Mammalia. The Library of Alexandria. ISBN 978-1-5115-9533-9.
  8. ^ a b Hayssen, V. (2008). "Bradypus pygmaeus (Pilosa: Bradypodidae)" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 812: 1–4. doi:10.1644/812.1. open access publication – free to read
  9. ^ Reid, F.A. (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America & Southeast Mexico (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-19-534322-9.
  10. ^ Ungar, P.S. (2010). Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity. Baltimore, US: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 145–6. ISBN 9780801899515.
  11. ^ Kaviar, S.; Shockey, J.; Sundberg, P.; Evans, A.R. (2012). "Observations on the endemic pygmy three-toed sloth, Bradypus pygmaeus of Isla Escudo de Veraguas, Panamá". PLOS ONE. 7 (11): e49854. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049854. open access publication – free to read
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  13. ^ Voirin, B. (2015). "Biology and conservation of the pygmy sloth, Bradypus pygmaeus". Journal of Mammalogy. 96 (4): 703–7. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyv078.
  14. ^ Hearst, M. (2012). Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of some of the Earth's Strangest Animals. San Francisco, US: Chronicle Books LLC. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-4521-1985-4.
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  17. ^ Packham, C. (17 March 2011). "Rare swimming pygmy sloth". Decade of Discovery. BBC Two. Event occurs at 51:56. Retrieved 28 May 2016.

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Pygmy three-toed sloth: Brief Summary
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The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus), also known as the monk sloth or dwarf sloth, is a sloth endemic to Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a small island off the coast of Panama. The species was first described by Robert P. Anderson of the University of Kansas and Charles O. Handley Jr., of the Smithsonian Institution in 2001. The pygmy three-toed sloth is significantly smaller than the other three members of its genus, but otherwise resembles the brown-throated three-toed sloth. According to Anderson and Handley Jr., the head-and-body length is between 48 and 53 centimetres (19 and 21 in), and the body mass ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 kg (5.5 to 7.7 lb).

This sloth, like other sloths, is arboreal (tree-living) and feeds on leaves. It is symbiotically associated with green algae, that can provide it with a camouflage. Details of mating behavior and reproduction have not been documented. The pygmy three-toed sloth is found exclusively in the red mangroves of Isla Escudos de Veraguas, restricted to an area of 4.3 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi). A 2012 census of pygmy three-toed sloths estimated the total population at 79. The IUCN lists the pygmy three-toed sloth as critically endangered and they are listed on the world's 100 most threatened species.

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