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Toothless Animals

( Originally Published 1936 )

ALL the animals belonging to this order are inhabitants of warm countries, and are either toothless or furnished with teeth of uniform shape and size, but destitute of either roots or enamel, and never occupying the front of the mouth. They have usually, however, large claws for climbing, scraping, and digging.

FAMILY BRADYPODIDAE (SLOTHS)

Sloths are animals with long shaggy hair, rudimentary tail, and two or three strong claws hooked, by which they hang below the under surface of the branches of trees. They have five teeth on each side of the upper jaw, four in the lower, long front legs and short hind legs. The few known species are confined to tropical America.

Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus)

This singular animal, found in the forests of Brazil and other parts of South America, has, as the name indicates, but two toes on the front feet. It is about two feet in length, and is covered with long coarse hair closely resembling hay. The legs are long and delicate and progression is made by crawling along the under side of branches of trees, supported by the sharply-curved claws, the movements being extremely slow and deliberate. Upon the ground the animal walks awkwardly with the greatest difficulty. The face is remarkably human in appearance, the eyes large, round, and very gentle in expression, the nose small, while the long hair is parted above the forehead and falls on either side of the face. See Plate 20, Fig. 98. The Sloth feeds on leaves and fruit which it finds in great abundance in the immense forests of South America, and is a most gentle and inoffensive animal.

At one time in the history of the world huge Ground-Sloths inhabited the Southern parts of South America and also parts of North America. One of these great animals, called Megatherium, measured as much as fifteen feet in length, but unlike the modern forms, did not climb among the branches of trees, but waddled along the ground, and when feeding rose upon its short but powerful hind legs in order to reach the leaves of trees upon which it fed.



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