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At first sight the lazy people’s lifestyle is the very antithesis of everything we value.
Modern life is fast and focused on finding new ways to include more activities in every second of our existence.
Laziness is one of the deadly sins and being busy is an honor. But what is the best strategy?
“Why do you want to move, and if you want to do it, why do you have to do it quickly? The faster you move, the higher the cost,” says Rory Wilson, professor of Zoology at Swansea University, England.
“Energy is very important for animals, if you want to keep it, the more slowly you move, the better.”
In that sense, there is no doubt that the most efficient animal is the lazy: officially they are the slowest mammals on the planet.
And their indolent and unconventional way of life has made them prosperous: they constitute a third of the biomass of mammals in the tropical forests and have been present in them for some 64 million years , surviving much more striking animals such as saber-toothed tigers .
Only two of the six species that exist today are in danger of extinction.
So should we be less like cheetahs and more like sloths?
The secret of your success
“They evolved to be extremely slow,” says Nisha Owen of the conservation program EDGE of existence at the Zoological Society of London.
“The amazing thing is that their metabolism is less than half as fast as other mammals, so they can be extremely slow to conserve energy, but the main advantage is that they evade predators .”
Note that he said “evade” not “escape”.
“They live in the treetops, moving very quietly, so they do not attract the attention of the predators that are in the trees or those that fly through the skies,” explains Owen.
His muscle fibers are 15 times more paused than those of a cat, so physically they are unable to move quickly.
“They are mostly made of tendons, so they are very strong and heavy but not very substantial, the tendons allow them to hold on to the trees and move very accurately, but their speed is 4 meters per minute on average .”
Well, we had already said that it was the slowest on the planet, although …
“Take into account the places where they live, the lazy pygmy, for example, moving between the mangroves, a very dense habitat, full of roots, very difficult to cross, so when we are following them we are not faster either “Owen confesses.
“They are simply very well adapted, ” he adds.
The strongest muscle of the sloth controls its claws, so that it can be hooked to the branches and hung like a hairy hammock.
That inverted existence is remarkably efficient from the energy point of view: it requires half the muscle mass (and, therefore, energy) that it would require to stay erect.
Your digestive system is also fabulously paused : it takes up to 50 days to break down a single leaf . If he did it faster, the toxins in the leaves could poison him.
As he digests food so slowly, he only has to get off the tree once a week to defecate.
His languid lifestyle caused little more than teasing humans at first.
Not only is his name a disaster in terms of public relations, but when the famous eighteenth-century naturalist Georges Buffon-a precursor of Charles Darwin-announced in his epic encyclopedia that “the degraded species of sloths are perhaps the only creatures with those that nature has been cruel “, were marked with a negative label.
“Sloths are the lowest form of existence,” he said. And he mocked: ” one more defect would have made their lives impossible “.
The one that laughs last …
But the evidence silences the ridicule.
What appeared to be defects turned out to be advantages.
The ability to adapt to the environment of the sloth is admirable .
An example is what happened on the island Barro Colorado. It was formed when they flooded with the waters of the Chagres river to make the Panama Canal. The island is what was left on the surface. Much of the fauna did not survive. 70% of the people who achieved it are lazy.
In addition, they are long-lived : the creatures that live at a slow pace, live longer.
Think of the turtles, another slow gold standard, that have a life expectancy of between 150 to 200 years.
And now think of ants and bees.
Yes, indeed: ants and bees
It turns out that the good reputation of these unforgiving workers is thanks to just between 5 to 30% of the population of the hives or anthills, which are the only ones that go out to collect food, as told to the BBC by Dr. Anna Dornhaus, who with his team from the University of Tucson, Arizona, was watching them recently.
“If you can see the nest inside, those that do not come out are engaged in housework, but there are more workers than necessary, so many – more than half of the colony – do not do anything . Some work spend a large part of the day completely inactive. “
If these models of hard work and diligence are not afraid of doing nothing, should not humans follow their example?
“There are many studies that show that by doing less we can achieve more, ” says psychologist Richard Wiseman.
“If you study something before going to sleep and try to remember it before getting up the next day, it’s going very well, because during the night the brain settles the ideas, but if you look at it in the morning and try to remember it in the afternoon, After the same number of hours, you’re not doing so well because your brain was distracted, it’s one of many examples. “
10% more accelerated
For more studies that indicate the convenience of slowing down life, Wiseman knows that it does nothing but increase.
Taking advantage of a study done in the early 1990s by psychologist Robert Levine, when they measured the speed with which people walked in different cities around the world – “a good indicator of how fast their lives were moving” -, updated information.
“We replicated the study 10 years later in the same cities and found that the pace of life had increased by plus or minus 10%.”
“That correlates with all kinds of things, mainly with what is known as a Type A personality …”.
We interrupt Wiseman to find what that is, because it is not usually healthy:
“Individuals with type A personality can be described as impatient, very competitive, ambitious, aggressive in business, who find it hard to relax, individuals with this type of personality are often stressed and in a bad mood.”