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A potential interplay of posture, digestive anatomy, density of ingesta and gravity in mammalian herbivores, or why sloths do not rest upside down


Clauss, Marcus (2004). A potential interplay of posture, digestive anatomy, density of ingesta and gravity in mammalian herbivores, or why sloths do not rest upside down. Mammal Review, 34(3):241-245.

Abstract

1. The interaction between ingesta density and gravity observed in the digestive systems of ruminant herbivores should receive attention in other nonruminant herbivorous mammals. The resting postures adopted by non-ruminants are of particular interest.

2. A new interpretation of established findings regarding the digestive tract of sloths illustrates that the interplay of posture, anatomy, the density of ingesta, and gravity can provide a novel explanation of behavioural and morphological adaptations in herbivores, as the average particle size and dry matter content increases within their forestomach from its caudal towards its cranial portion. In sloths, this could be indicative of a stratification of ingesta occurring in the upright sitting posture adopted while resting, as opposed to their characteristic upside-down posture when foraging.

3. The sitting resting posture of sloths could therefore be an adaptation to exploit the tendency of the forestomach conents to stratify in order to pass larger, more difficult-to-digest particles faster from the fermentation chamber.

Abstract

1. The interaction between ingesta density and gravity observed in the digestive systems of ruminant herbivores should receive attention in other nonruminant herbivorous mammals. The resting postures adopted by non-ruminants are of particular interest.

2. A new interpretation of established findings regarding the digestive tract of sloths illustrates that the interplay of posture, anatomy, the density of ingesta, and gravity can provide a novel explanation of behavioural and morphological adaptations in herbivores, as the average particle size and dry matter content increases within their forestomach from its caudal towards its cranial portion. In sloths, this could be indicative of a stratification of ingesta occurring in the upright sitting posture adopted while resting, as opposed to their characteristic upside-down posture when foraging.

3. The sitting resting posture of sloths could therefore be an adaptation to exploit the tendency of the forestomach conents to stratify in order to pass larger, more difficult-to-digest particles faster from the fermentation chamber.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:2004
Deposited On:02 Dec 2008 10:54
Last Modified:02 Oct 2016 07:04
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0305-1838
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2907.2004.00039.x

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