Sloths are no slouches when it comes to evolution

September 10, 2014 2:58 PM

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Sloths are no slouches when it comes to evolution

Today's sloths might be known as slow, small animals, but their ancestors developed large body sizes at an amazing rate, according to an evolutionary reconstruction published today in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. The fast rate of change suggests that factors such as environmental conditions, or competition with other species must have strongly favored the bigger sloths, before they died out.

Scientists from UCL (University College London) and University College Dublin looked at existing models for reconstructing how sloths diversified, with some species as large as elephants, and some shrinking down to their current small sizes from a large ancestor. The study showed that some sloth lin...

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