Anteaters, sloths and armadillos
These rather primitive New World mammals have on the forelimbs two or three fingers much longer than the others. These long fingers are used as hooks by sloths, to break open anthills by anteaters, and to burrow by armadillos. All lack front teeth, and cheek teeth, if present, have no enamel.
Anteaters: 3 species
Anteaters have long, tapering snouts,tubular mouths with no teeth, and long sticky tongues.
Sloths: 5 species
The slow-moving tree sloths have short, rounded heads, inconspicuous ears, and forward-facing eyes. The hand has two or three fingers with which sloths suspend themselves upside-down from branches. The hairs hang downwards so that rainwater runs down to the back. Algae often grow on the surface of the straw-like hairs, giving the fur a green colour and camouflaging the animal among the leaves.
Armadillos: 20 species
Members of this family have a covering of horny plates or bands connected by flexible skin, so that most species can roll up into a ball for defence. They have three to five strong claws on the front feet which are used for burrowing, and up to 90 peg-like teeth. They roam in open country from the southern USA to the Argentine pampas.
[< Go Back]