Are Pangolins Related To Sloths

|

Pangolins and sloths are not closely related, despite some similarities in their appearance and behavior. Here are some key points from the search results:

  • Pangolins and sloths are as distantly related as can be among placental mammals, having last shared a common ancestor about 90 to 100 million years ago.
  • Pangolins are more closely related to the order Carnivora (cats, dogs, bears, etc.) than to Xenarthrans (anteaters, armadillos, and sloths).
  • Sloths are part of the order Pilosa, which also includes anteaters.
  • There is no evidence of any inter-specific interaction between sloths and pangolins in the wild.

In summary, pangolins and sloths are not closely related, despite some similarities in their appearance and behavior.

Pangolins are more closely related to the order Carnivora than to Xenarthrans, while sloths are part of the order Pilosa.

There is no evidence of any inter-specific interaction between sloths and pangolins in the wild.

related

Evolutionary Relationships

Recent studies have provided new insights into the evolutionary relationships of sloths and other animals.

Here are some key findings:

  • Sloths: There are two types of sloths, the two-toed sloth and the three-toed sloth.

    Recent studies have shown that the three-toed sloth is more closely related to a group of extinct giant ground sloths, including the elephant-sized Megatherium and the pony-sized Megalonyx, than to the two-toed sloth. The two-toed sloth, on the other hand, was previously thought to belong to a family called Megalonychidae, which includes Central American and Caribbean sloths and an Ice Age-era American ground sloth.

    However, new findings suggest that two-toed sloths are actually the last survivors of an ancient lineage previously thought to be extinct, which likely split off about 20 million years ago.
  • Pangolins: Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, were once thought to be closely related to sloths and other animals in a group called edentates (“no teeth”), due to similarities in their anatomy.

    However, molecular trees based on DNA data have shown that these traits evolved independently in different branches of the mammal tree.

    Pangolins are actually more closely related to cats and dogs than to sloths and other edentates.
  • Armadillos: Armadillos, along with anteaters and sloths, belong to a group of mammals called xenarthrans.

    A study using nuclear and mitochondrial phylogenies found that the early emergence of armadillos occurred around the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary, followed by the divergence between anteaters and sloths.

These studies have provided new insights into the evolutionary relationships of sloths, pangolins, and armadillos, and have challenged previous assumptions about these animals.

Pangolins and Sloths

Pangolins and sloths have some similarities in their anatomy and adaptations, but they also have some significant differences.

Here are some key points about their comparative anatomy and adaptations:

  • Anatomy: Sloths have fur, while pangolins have scales made of keratin, like fingernails. Pangolins have a muscular stomach with keratinous spines projecting into its interior, which helps them mash and grind prey. Pangolins have five-toed paws with three long, curved claws on their forefeet, which they use to demolish the nests of termites and ants and to dig nesting and sleeping burrows. Sloths have long, curved claws that they use to hang from branches and move through trees.
  • Adaptations: Both pangolins and sloths are adapted for digging.

    Pangolins dig burrows with their strong front legs and claws, using their tails and rear legs for support and balance. Sloths have a unique adaptation in their neck vertebrae that allows them to turn their heads up to 270 degrees, which helps them scan for predators while hanging upside down. Pangolins have a long, sticky tongue that they use to eat ants and termites, while sloths have a slow metabolism and low body temperature that allows them to conserve energy. Pangolins can roll themselves up into a tight ball when they feel threatened, while sloths have almost no discernible body odor and may be difficult for predators to detect.
  • Evolutionary relationships: Pangolins and sloths are not closely related.

    In fact, they last shared a common ancestor about 90 to 100 million years ago, and are as distantly related as can be among placental mammals. Pangolins are more closely related to cats and dogs than to sloths and other edentates. Sloths are more closely related to extinct giant ground sloths than to other living sloths.

Overall, pangolins and sloths have some similarities in their adaptations for digging and eating insects, but they also have some significant differences in their anatomy and evolutionary relationships.

related

Genetic Studies on Pangolins and Sloths

Genetic studies have been conducted to unravel the relationship between pangolins and sloths.

Here are some key findings from the search results:

  • Pangolins and sloths are not closely related.

    They last shared a common ancestor about 90 to 100 million years ago, and are as distantly related as can be among placental mammals.
  • Comparative genome maps of the pangolin, hedgehog, sloth, anteater, and human have been revealed by cross-species chromosome painting. Gene family analysis identified 147 families that are significantly expanded and 18 that are contracted in the pangolin lineage, indicating that gene expansion has played an important role in pangolin evolution. Analyses of genetic variability show that white-bellied pangolins have intermediate levels of genome-wide heterozygosity relative to Chinese and Sunda pangolins.
  • Armadillos, sloths, and anteaters belong to the order Xenarthra, which includes unusual extinct forms like ground sloths and glyptodonts.

Genetic studies have provided insights into the evolutionary relationships and genetic diversity of pangolins and sloths.

These studies have confirmed that pangolins and sloths are not closely related and have revealed the role of gene expansion in pangolin evolution.

related

Locomotion and Behavior

Pangolins and sloths have contrasting traits in their locomotion and behavior.

Here are some key points from the search results:

  • Locomotion: Pangolins are good climbers and can live in trees, while sloths are adapted for life in trees and can hang upside down during locomotion. Pangolins have strong legs and claws for digging and tearing, while sloths have long, curved claws that they use to hang from branches and move through trees. Sloths have a unique adaptation in their neck vertebrae that allows them to turn their heads up to 270 degrees, which helps them scan for predators while hanging upside down. Sloths move slowly and have a slow metabolism, while pangolins can move quickly when needed.
  • Behavior: Pangolins are nocturnal and feed on termites, ants, and larvae, using their well-developed sense of smell to locate prey. Pangolins can roll themselves up into a tight ball when they feel threatened, and emit an odorous secretion from large anal glands as a defense mechanism. Sloths are also nocturnal and feed on leaves, using their slow metabolism to conserve energy. Sloths are timid and live alone or in pairs, and have almost no discernible body odor, which may make them difficult for predators to detect.
  • Evolutionary relationships: Pangolins and sloths are not closely related, and last shared a common ancestor about 90 to 100 million years ago. Sloths are more closely related to extinct giant ground sloths than to other living sloths.

Overall, pangolins and sloths have contrasting traits in their locomotion and behavior, with pangolins being good climbers and diggers, and sloths being adapted for life in trees and moving slowly.

They are also not closely related, and have evolved different adaptations to their environments.

related

Ecological Roles of Pangolins and Sloths in Their Respective Habitats

Pangolins and sloths play important ecological roles in their respective habitats.

Here are some key points from the search results:

Pangolins:

  • Pangolins perform crucial ecosystem services in the Asian and African habitats they call home as they slurp up mass amounts of ants and termites and dig into the ground to create living spaces and to access their insect meals.
  • Pangolins rip apart rotting logs and termite mounds and root out rocks and hard packed earth in the jungles and savannahs where they live, which further contributes to the mechanical breakdown of organic and inorganic matter that aids in the cycling of minerals and nutrients through these ecosystems.
  • Pangolins’ insatiable appetite for insects gives them an important role in their ecosystem: pest control.

    Estimates indicate that one adult pangolin can consume more than 70 million insects annually.

Sloths:

  • Sloths are adapted for life in trees and can hang upside down during locomotion.
  • Sloths have a unique adaptation in their neck vertebrae that allows them to turn their heads up to 270 degrees, which helps them scan for predators while hanging upside down.
  • Sloths have almost no discernible body odor, which may make them difficult for predators to detect.
  • Sloths feed on leaves, using their slow metabolism to conserve energy.
related

Pangolins and sloths play important roles in their respective habitats.

Pangolins contribute to the mechanical breakdown of organic and inorganic matter and provide pest control, while sloths have adaptations for life in trees and feed on leaves.

Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts are crucial for protecting pangolins and sloths in the wild.

Here are some key points from the search results:

Pangolins:

  • All eight species of pangolins are threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) SSC Pangolin Specialist Group.
  • Pangolins gained the highest levels of protection under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2016, with the decision to uplist all 8 species to Appendix I.

    International trade in pangolins for commercial purposes is prohibited by law.
  • Conservation efforts must emphasize stopping the removal of pangolins from the wild.

    Wildlife authorities are constantly seizing live pangolins from illegal traders, so it’s key to develop ways pangolins can be treated and rehabilitated in captivity so that they can be returned to the wild.
  • Pangolin conservation efforts include mapping the current distribution and range, estimating population sizes, training rangers and wildlife authorities, and developing rescue and rehabilitation centers. Communities and local officials need to be fully aware of the benefits of pangolin conservation so that they can become involved in conservation action.

Sloths:

  • Sloths are listed as a species of “least concern” by the IUCN, but some populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • Sloths play important ecological roles in their habitats, such as contributing to the mechanical breakdown of organic and inorganic matter and providing pest control.
  • Conservation efforts for sloths include protecting their habitats from deforestation and fragmentation, and educating local communities about the importance of sloths in their ecosystems.

Overall, conservation efforts are crucial for protecting pangolins and sloths in the wild.

These efforts include stopping the removal of pangolins from the wild, developing ways to treat and rehabilitate pangolins in captivity, and protecting the habitats of sloths from deforestation and fragmentation.

related

Cultural Significance

Pangolins and sloths have cultural significance in myths, folklore, and symbolism.

Here are some key points from the search results:

Pangolins:

  • Pangolins have cultural significance in traditional medicine in Ghana, where pangolin scales and bones are the most prevalent prescribed body parts and indicated the highest cultural significance among traditional medicine practitioners.
  • Pangolins are also valued for their scales and other body parts in traditional medicine in other parts of the world, which has contributed to their illegal wildlife trade and threatened their survival.
  • In some cultures, pangolins are associated with good luck, and their scales are believed to have protective powers.

Sloths:

  • Sloths have been featured in myths and folklore in various cultures.

    In some indigenous cultures in South America, sloths are believed to have healing powers and are associated with the spirit world.
  • In some cultures, sloths are associated with laziness and slowness, and are used as symbols of these traits.
  • Sloths have also been featured in popular culture, such as in the animated movie “Zootopia,” where a sloth works at the DMV and is known for his slow speed.

In conclusion, pangolins and sloths have cultural significance in myths, folklore, and symbolism.

Pangolins are valued for their body parts in traditional medicine and associated with good luck, while sloths have been featured in myths and folklore and associated with laziness and slowness.

Helpful Resources