Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sloths, And How They're Hanging

Sure did cheer me up to see Free Range Chicken Livers available at the local grocery store. Like a lot of people, I've come around to considering that it's important how my food is raised, and frankly just the image of those chicken livers gamboling away inside the chicken has lifted my spirits. Shiny livers careen past the spleen! Romp around the crop! Scratch their tiny backsides against the gizzard! Why, if I could stand to eat livers, these are the very livers I'd buy.

Naturally, I could not contemplate the free-roaming life of the livers for long without thinking about sloths.

Because you absolutely never see Free Range Sloth Anything in the marketplace. And there's a reason for that. Just about everything inside a sloth is anchored down. It can't go anywhere. It's true. If you were to spend much time upside down, you'd be uncomfortable very fast. All your little organs would sort of slump to a lower position and press on each other and feel all weighty and congested. But the sloth's organs are pasted in place right where they belong, and they feel just fine.

Well, that's just the sloth organs, but up to a third of what is inside a sloth is sloth poop. This is not the reason sloths are so famously logy, but it can't help. Sloths don't eat anything but leaves, and they don't eat them so very fast, and they're not easy to digest. It can take up to a month to get everything you can out of a leaf. There's really nothing to do but hang around and wait. You don't get a lot of energy from leaves, either. So you're not going to see a lot of zip in a sloth. It would require some expenditure of muscle energy to sit on a branch or move around a lot, so they don't do that. They don't even rightly hang on. They just grow their fingernails out like Howard Hughes and hook themselves onto a branch and call it a day. Not a lot is going to motivate them to do anything, except once a week, when they have to throw the gearshift into Mosey and climb to the ground and poop.

They only do it once a week so you'd think they looked forward to it--I would--but it's actually a fraught time for them. They always poop in the same spot and any carnivore who might want to sample a sloth knows just where to find it, and they can just go right up to the sloth and start chewing, because of that sloth logyness problem.

So why poop on the ground, when you could just as well let fly from a high branch and get a gravity assist? Some guess that the sloth is avoiding undue noise, but I suspect an animal with a month's worth of poop inside it makes plenty of noise already. There's some speculation that the sloth goes to the ground to poop in order to provide a good substrate for the moths that breed in sloth poop and then go live in sloth fur, but that's kind of giving the sloth a lot of nobility of purpose he might not actually possess. In fact, the sloth is a universe unto itself for any number of moths and other insects, and also algae, which accumulate in its fur. The moths produce moth poop which fertilizes the algae and there's an idea that the sloth benefits from being rendered greenish and indistinct, but no one really knows. Even if a predator were to locate a big, slow, green sloth, there's a good chance it's already dead: it wouldn't look any different. So perhaps the predators lose interest. There's no obvious upside to the sloth of any of this, and frankly it's an odd mammal that can't outrun algae.

A sloth can be just as free-range as you please, but it's not much of a range except for the potty stop. And anyway, is there any reason a sloth moth could not equally well avail itself of sloth poop dropped from on high? I can't think of any. So why does the sloth endanger his life to go all the way to the ground to take a dump?

I'd like to think it's a matter of simple courtesy.

38 comments:

  1. Gives a whole new meaning to the term "slothful", doesn't it?

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    1. We could Noun it! "A slothful of poop." I know just how it feels.

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  2. I'm still on the chicken liver. I have found that liver really can't be lumped into one category. Adult beef liver, I'll pass on that. In fact, I will give that a really wide berth. Calves liver, that is completely different. Tender and succulent. Never had pigs liver, but keen to try. Chicken liver is nothing like beef liver, adult or calf. Wonderful. Give it a try!

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  3. There is grant money in that...well there used to be.

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    1. Sloth poop grant money. There ought to be.

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  4. As reported in the Washington Post: '“It’s always a special occasion when the sloth poops,” said Cathy Schlott, curator for the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.' They even have video. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/06/21/a-sloth-risks-its-life-every-time-it-poops-watch-the-harrowing-act-for-yourself/

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    1. I am looking forward to seeing this video more than you can even imagine. I'm waiting for a...special time.

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  5. You'd think by now that I'd know better, but nooooooo, I click on Murrmurrs while eating.

    It's the old bait and switch thing. For weeks you write about politics, and birds, and Tater, and stuff. Then, you can't hold back any longer, and ... POOP.

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    1. You can only hold back so long--you KNOW that.

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  6. P. S. The algae part was fascinating. Have you ever see baby sloths on youtube? You should.

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    1. I just saw a baby sloth video last week, and not because I was looking up stuff for this post! Evidently sloths have hit a public nerve.

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    2. I expect the more discerning readers/viewer were looking for something a little more classy the the spillage of the past 6 or 8 weeks...

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    3. I just had a look, and it was everything I hoped for. But I am easily pleased.

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    4. They even make cute little slothy wahs!

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    5. That sentence didn't exactly come out well. I meant their noises, you know, the sounds they make. Sheesh.

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    6. Made perfect sense the first time.

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  7. Mosey is my favourite speed these days :)

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  8. "Born, ... in the USA." (The sign)

    Now I'm thinking of chicken liver births. Right down the old egg channel? Or is there a separate anatomical structure for birthing livers?
    Or are their mommy chicken livers out there, pushing out one baby liver after another?

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    1. I'm not 100% sure, but I feel this surge of pride that you are going down that intellectual road right now. Thank you.

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  9. As a disclaimer, I've never had chicken livers, that I'm aware of, though I had tricky uncles who could have perpetrated any one number of atrocities on us younguns....
    But, a comparison to another fowl. Ducks....
    duck liver is a treat, tastes nothing like beef or other mammal liver....tender, melts in your mouth, delicious on toast points, etc.
    Simply coat them in flour, season with salt and pepper, saute quickly in hot olive oil, 30 seconds on a side and serve.
    You'd be amazed.
    Hey, I rather like monkey brains on scrambled eggs with nuoc mam sauce, so how can I be wrong?

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    1. Just between you and me? Right? No one else is looking? I like foie gras. Shh.

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    2. foie gras will never be on my menu
      http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/ducks-geese/foie-gras/

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    3. I TOLD Should Fish More that that was just between him and me.

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  10. I grew up watching sloths in the tropics...slow and interesting creatures...this was funny. Thanks for the chuckles...

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    1. Oh, that sounds like a delicious and langorous childhood you had.

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    2. If only...though I don't regret watching sloths or being around a rainforest...

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  11. They don't have very many toes, either. I wonder if there is a particular day they prefer for pooping and, as they are kind of logy, does it take all day to have a dump?

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  12. I can't help buy wonder if sloths grunt and groan when relieving themselves, much like a constipated human who has been backed up for a while.

    You know, after reading this post, I'm suddenly a lot happier than I eat plenty of fiber and stay hydrated.

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  13. Four long, entertaining paragraphs on sloths. And you touched on organ attachment: my aunt told me years ago that people's organs are attached in the rear and it's good to sleep on your stomach. For what that's worth.

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    1. Huh! I wonder if that's so! It would put a shine on my habit of stomach-sleeping, which I've otherwise gotten the idea is bad. I do think there's something about sleeping on the left side being better for the digestion or heart than the right, or the other way around. I wonder who knows?

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  14. OMG. "throw the gearshift into Mosey". SUCH a keeper, that!

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