Wild Caribbean: The Caribbean’s Most Unusual Animals

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April 22, 2014

2. Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth (Escudo de Veraguas, Panama)


If you’ve been to a natural history museum, you may have come across the giant sloth, a long-extinct creature that looks more suited to an episode ofย Game of Thrones than real-life history. The last remaining pockets of land sloths existed in the Caribbean as recently as 4,000 agoโ€”as much as 6,000 years after they disappeared from the mainland. That might just make the pygmy three-toed sloths that reside in the trees on Escudo de Veraguasโ€” a tiny, unpopulated island in the Bocas del Toroย off the coast of Panamaโ€”theย closest living relation to these legendary prehistoric beasts. Tiny in terms of their physical size and range, they’ve only recently become known to science and declared a distinct species; it’s believed they derived from a group ofย brown-throated three-toed slothsย which became isolated from the Central American mainland. Currently, the pygmy three-toed sloth population numbers just about 80.