Photosynthetic Sloths of Amazonia
a mere ¶ from One River by Wade Davis!

3-toed sloth with photosynthetic furThe three-toed sloth is a gentle herbivore. Its slow movements, together with its cryptic coloration, protect it from its major predator, the harpy eagle. harpy eagle

Viewed up close, the sloth appears as a hallucination, an ecosystem unto itself that softly vibrates with hundreds of exoparasites.

spirulina The animal's mottled appearance is due in part to a blue-green alga that lives symbiotically within its hollow hairs.

A dozen varieties of arthropods burrow beneath its fur; a single sloth weighing a mere ten pounds may be home to over a thousand beetles. The life cycles off these insects are completely tied to the daily round of the sloth. With its excruciatingly slow metabolism, the sloth defacates only once a week.

The animal climbs down from the canopy, excavates a small depression at the foot beetle hive of the tree, voids its feces, and then returns back up. Mites, beetles, and even a few species of moth leap off the sloth, deposit an egg in the dung, and climb back onto their host for a ride up the tree. The eggs germinate, and in one way or another, the young insects find another sloth to call home.

magical trees Why would this animal go down to the base of the tree, exposing itself to all forms of terrestrial predation, when it could just as easily deficate from the treetops?

The answer provides an important clue to the immense complexity and subtlety of the Amazonian ecosystem. Biologists have suggested that in depositing feces at the base, the sloth enhances the nutrient regime of the host tree. That such a small amount of nitrogenous material might actually make a difference suggests that this cornucopia of life is far more fragile than it appears.

mother gaea's virgin rainforest before and after industrial intervention
The tropical rain forest, though home to tens of thousands of species, is in a sense a counterfeit paradise, a castle of immense biological sophistication built quite literally on a foundation of sand.

Wade Davis, One River
Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest


gaia nation"The idea is that we may have discovered a living being bigger, more ancient, and more complex than anything from our wildest dreams. That being, called Gaia, is the Earth." Stephen Miller

e a r t h m
a n i f e s
t a t i o n
earthman - dimitri

The Gaean Conspiracy is based on the following major premise: The Earth is a single living being, whose rocks, plants, animals, air, oceans and oozing mantle are all interdependent systems in a giant biological superorganism.

envirologo EnviroLink
the largest online environmental
information resource on the planet.

Rainforest Action Network works to protect tropical rainforests and the human rights of those living in and around those forests.
The Rain Forest Family is a group of people focused on supporting research and education about the Amazon, traditional Amazonian healing methods and Shamanism.
EarthWatch Using astronomy as a metaphor, EarthWatch explores biomorphic cosmology presented from a transterrestrial viewpoint (for those of us who are on this planet, yet not completely of it). Robert Knight
Organic Agriculture, Farmscaping, Permaculture & Bioregionalism
Mycorestoration uses fungi to prevent erosion and build top soil in disturbed forest habitats. Also see Mycova.

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