BBC report may force churches to find a new name for a deadly sin. New research indicates that the sloth's image as a lazy creature that sleeps for most of the day is unwarranted. Rather than snoozing for more than 16 hours a day, as observed in captivity, sloths in the wild doze for less than 10 hours, research suggests.
Scientists caught sloths living in the rainforest of Panama and fitted them with a device that monitors sleep. Lead researcher Niels Rattenborg, of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Starnberg, Germany, said the study demonstrated for the first time that it was possible to record sleep in a wild animal. "The real exciting finding was that they only slept 9.6 hours a day, which is much less than what people popularly believed and less than had been observed in a previous study of sloths in captivity. So they still may be sloth-like in terms of their speed of movement but in terms of their sleep they don't seem to sleep an inordinate amount of time."
Animals vary in the amount of sleep they need. Pythons, for example, sleep for 18 hours a day, while giraffes survive on just two hours. To investigate sleeping patterns in wild sloths, the scientists, from Germany, Switzerland and the US, developed a small machine capable of monitoring brain patterns associated with sleep.
Dr Neil Stanley, an expert in sleep disorders at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, UK, said animals tended to sleep much more in captivity, where they have all their needs met. "It's intuitive that animals would sleep less in the wild than in captivity - this technology gives us the opportunity to prove that's true," he said.
So there you have it. Sloths sleep far less than pythons bit would python be a good name for a deadly sin... I suppose there is the old standby: we could call it student (before any howls of protest I was a lazy bastard when I was one!)