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Anteaters Sloths and Armadillos: Xenarthra

Sloths, Anteaters, Armadillos, And People

Humans have various relationships with sloths, anteaters, and armadillos. People hunt xenarthrans for food, and they make pets of some species. Sometimes people keep anteaters at home to help get rid of ants. People kill some sloths for their fur pelts. Tamandua is hunted for the tendon, a cord-like tissue that attaches muscle to bone, in its tail. The tendon is used to make rope.

In addition, medical researchers are studying armadillos. They are the only mammals besides humans that contract leprosy, a skin disease. Research on armadillos helps to develop treatment of this condition in people.


Sloths, anteaters, and armadillos were once thought to belong to the order Edentata, a word that means "toothless." Some xenarthrans have teeth, and they all have skeletons that are different from other mammals. "Xenarthra" is a combination of Greek words meaning "strange joints." In xenarthrans, three pairs of joints connect some vertebrae (backbone segments) in the backbone. In addition, xenarthrans don't have separate pelvic bones. Pelvic bones are unconnected in the hips of most mammals.

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Animal Life ResourceMammalsAnteaters Sloths and Armadillos: Xenarthra - Physical Characteristics, Geographic Range, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Sloths, Anteaters, Armadillos, And People