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The decoding of slowness
Date:7/19/2011

lae), being able to move freely on top of a narrow, rounded chest. This lends them a maximum radius of movement". Moreover a dislocation of certain muscular contact points occurred which enabled them to keep their own body weight with a minimum of energy input. "In the evolution of the sloths the adaptation to the slow, energy saving way of movement occurred solely through their anatomy", John Nyakatura sums up. What was even more astonishing, this principle developed in two cases independent of each other: in the two-toed sloths and in the three-toed sloths. But although the outward appearance and lifestyle of the animals may lead to the assumption of them being related to each other, these two families are, from an evolutionary point of view, only distant relations.

"With their mode of life the sloths are filling an ecological niche", adds Prof. Dr. Martin S. Fischer, who oversaw John Nyakatura's doctoral thesis. "Sloths lead their lives in energy saving mode". Their usage of energy saving food in connection with an unobtrusive lifestyle turns them into complete 'models of energy saving' among the mammals, according to the Jena Professor of systematic zoology and evolutionary biology. And this was a well-known recipe for success completely unrelated to 'laziness'.

Meanwhile John Nyakatura and his colleagues are not analyzing sloths any more those have returned to the Zoo in Dortmund. Now the Jena researchers are applying themselves to the movement of birds.


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Contact: Axel Burchardt
presse@uni-jena.de
49-364-193-1031
Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena
Source:Eurekalert  

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