Sloths (or do you pronounce it “sloths”?), are a group of tree-dwelling xenarthrans from South and Central America. They are well known for their sedentary lifestyles where they just hang around and seemingly do fairly little. But has this always been the case? When we look back at the fossil record of sloths, what kinds of ecologies do we see? How far back does their fossil record actually go?
In this episode, we speak to Dr Robert McAfee (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia) about his research looking into the fossil record of sloths in all of its “beautiful absurdity”. His work has been focussed on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and the remarkably rich cave deposits found there.
Hispaniola is a Caribbean island divided into Haiti in the West and the Dominican Republic in the East.
The underwater caves have preserved the bones of these animals remarkably well and thanks to the efforts of divers such as the Dominican Republic Speleological Society, fossil material is made available for researchers to study.