Friday, 2 August 2019
Blue-green algae are microscopic, plant-like organisms. The term is used to describe any of a large, heterogeneous group of prokaryotic, principally photosynthetic organisms. These little oxygenic (oxygen-producing) fellows appeared are given credit for greatly increasing the oxygen content of the atmosphere, making possible the development of aerobic (oxygen-using) organisms and some very special relationships with some of the slowest moving mammals on the planet, the sloths or Folivora.
The tribes of South America who live close to these insect and leaf-eaters, call these arboreal browsers "Ritto, Rit or Ridette, which roughly translates to variations on sleep, sleepy, munching and filthy. Not all that far off when you consider the sloth and their lifestyle.
The sloth's body and shaggy coat, or pelage, provides a comfy habitat to two types of wee blue-green algae along with various other invertebrates. The hairs that make up the sloth's coat are long and coarse with grooves that help foster algal growth. They soak up water readily and make for the perfect habitat for algae, moths, beetles fungi and even cockroaches.
And, while Kermit the Frog says, "it's not easy being green," it couldn't be further from the truth for this slow-moving tree dweller. The blue-green algae gives the sloth a natural greenish camouflage, an arrangement that is certainly win-win.