On Friday I asked you if you could identify this critter:
It turns out that many of you could – it is indeed a sloth (of the two-toed variety). Here is a breakdown of the response:
I must admit that I am impressed that so many of you got this one right – it’s quite tricky! The huge teeth of the two-toed sloth (not present in the three-toed sloth) make this skull look like it belongs to something quite fearsome – so it’s unsurprising that the lynx was voted a close second.
Jim provided a really good breakdown of why he though it was a sloth, so I will restate:
Porcupine is rodent like, two long central incisors.
Vampire Bat also has a similar double piercing front teeth, and very thin skull.
Sea Otter skull is longer.
The Lemur and Rhesus Monkey are primates, and this doesn’t look like a primate skull (certainly not at Monkey).
Lynx or Sloth, hmmm. In big cats the lower canines protrude to the front, rather than being nicely tucked behind the upper canines.
That only leaves one option – but then this surprises me; why the hell do they need such large canines? I thought they just had molars, so this ultimately leaves me unsure.
[Dr Jim of Mental Indigestion fame]
As it turns out, the two-toed sloth doesn’t have any canines at all – the large sharp teeth it has are actually pre-molars that have evolved functional convergence with canines. These teeth, along with large claws, are used in defense against eagles, snakes and other predators. They are also likely to play a role in the slow-motion fights between males over mating rights to females.
Another mystery object this Friday – I think a change from skulls might be in order – is everyone happy with that?