A robotic ‘spy sloth’ gets a close-up view of the mini-ecosystem contained in a sloth’s fur. Eeeww…gross!
This is Spy Sloth.
He's here to reveal how the animals find and use jungle remedies.
Twenty-five percent of our medicines were discovered in the rainforest, and the animals here may know of many more.
He soon attracts the interest of a real three-toed sloth.
Their first encounter is a very...slow...affair!
Spy Sloth's close up view soon reveals something remarkable.
The real sloth's fur is crawling with other life.
Up to 900 moths and beetles may live on a single sloth.
They aerate his fur and prevent infections.
Alongside the insects, 84 different fungi also thrive in the fur.
Many are antibiotic or antimalarial and some have been shown to destroy cancer cells.
Usually there is only one sloth per tree - so this encounter requires some careful negotiation.